I don’t know if Miesha Tate is in a better or worse position right now than she was when Dana White passed her over at the last second for a title shot. Dana spent so much time hemming and hawing about a Rousey vs Tate rematch that I felt sorry for Miesha. Prior to Holly, she was the one woman many felt capable of giving the former champion Ronda hell inside the Octagon.
In fact, I’d gone so far as to state that after the Holly vs. Ronda match, Miesha deserved a shot while assuming that Ronda would still be the champion. And yet, it was Holly Holm who stood victorious after a devastating K.O. finish.
That match woke me up to the reality that not only was Ronda Rousey fallible, I’d grossly overestimated her abilities. Easy to do when most of the women she’d fought from the beginning of women’s MMA in UFC were much weaker than herself. Her dominance was praised, but it took Holly Holm to show that she was bullying the easily bullied.
Miesha Tate may have enjoyed seeing her rival laid low after that inconsiderate last-minute rematch cancellation, however, I hope she saw more than comeuppance. Now Tate finds herself getting an overdue title shot that could — if she wins — see her take on Rousey once more. Before that happens, there are three very important things I hope she takes away from Holly Holm’s stunning performance. Otherwise, she’s toast.
First, Holly Holm isn’t afraid to play possum and let her opponents overestimate their chances. So many people talk about Holm’s previously lackluster performances in the UFC. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Dana White passed over Miesha Tate as the obvious No. 1 contender to pick a seemingly lackluster No. 7 contender. We all saw White’s shocked face after Holm humiliated his much-hyped Women’s Bantamweight Champion.
I’m convinced the only reason Holly is the champion now is because she did nothing to indicate she’d be anything but another easy target. Somehow, the fact that Holly is a multiple-time world boxing champ who trains almost exclusively with MMA male fighters didn’t raise any red flags on that front.
Now that she’s gotten what she wanted (Ronda’s spot), Holly Holm must prove that her win was anything but a fluke. Unlike the former champion, she’ll likely stay quiet about her intentions, allowing Miesha Tate to build more confidence than she should have about her chances. SBNation published an article quoting her coach saying Tate can stand toe-to-toe and exchange blows with a former boxing champion. Those statements are great for hype but bad for realistic expectations. Tate must be cautious and wise, otherwise, things may go even worse for her than they did for Rousey.
Second, she needs to remember that Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm are two very different fighters. Rousey is, of course, an Olympic judo champion. In the UFC, it’s been her M.O. to win by physically overpowering her opponent’s early on and winning matches in a matter of seconds. Holly Holm has powerful punches (did you see Ronda’s face after the first round?), a devastating knockout kick that she hides behind those punches, and one of the most deadly tools any fighter can possess: patience.
Holly Holm is a smart fighter who can adapt her fight plan to exploit weaknesses. Having grown accustomed to fights ending early, Ronda Rousey was not prepared to go the distance. Having never had to chase her opponents, Ronda Rousey was a sitting duck for a flurry of awful hits to the face. She was made to look the amateur, and Miesha will want to keep in mind the ruthlessness she witnessed in November. She must set aside any expectations of toughness as dictated by fighting Ronda in the past. I believe that Holly will be a far tougher opponent of Miesha comes in expecting a purely physical fight.
Lastly, I think Miesha Tate should make the effort to conduct herself in a much better (and less jinx-ish) manner than Ronda Rousey did last year. One of the reasons that Rousey has had so much trouble living that loss down is because of how she conducted herself right before that horrible loss. She went out of her way to be rude to Holly Holm, getting in her face at the weigh-in and then cursing her out on Instagram. Many fight fans also noted her refusal to touch gloves with Holly before getting the beating of her life.
If Tate makes it a point to be a class act, she’ll probably not get the clowning that Rousey experienced should she lose. If Miesha defeats Holly, she’ll be hailed as a classy new champion who’s getting her long overdue chance to reign as champion. Although a win is the most optimal outcome, graciousness in defeat has its perks — like a lack of embarrassing memes.
What do you think Miesha Tate should take to heart prior to facing Holly Holm? Do you think she has a chance to succeed where Ronda Rousey failed? Share your thoughts below!
[Photos by Andy Brownbill/AP – Steve Marcus/Getty Images]