There’s more than a UFC Women’s Bantamweight title on the line for Miesha Tate. It’s very likely the No. 1 contender is also holding the career of long-time rival Ronda Rousey in her hands.
That seems odd to admit, but think about it honestly for a minute. Holly Holm holds the distinction of handing Ronda Rousey her first defeat — and an unarguably devastating one at that. Meanwhile, Miesha Tate is a much-disliked rival whom Rousey’s already beaten twice. Should Tate beat Holm, she would no doubt have something major to rub in the face of Rousey.
A win by Miesha Tate would likely lead to Dana White immediately rolling out much-hyped promotion for the return of Ronda Rousey — and the not-too-secret hopes and prayers by the UFC president that his former cash cow makes a triumphant return to the top of the hill.
For my part, I genuinely want it to be a close match. I want a real fight. I certainly want Tate to be smarter and more skilled in her approach to Holm than Rousey was. I wouldn’t mind a split decision if it were clear both women fought a fierce battle and gave their all.
Miesha seems positive she’ll have a good night. Fox Sports quoted her as saying that Holm “has a suspect chin,” hinting at confidence she can knock out the current UFC champion.
“I think her chin might be a little bit suspect,” Tate said on “UFC Tonight” on Wednesday. “I’ve noticed (that) in some of the videos when a few of her opponents connected.”
Meanwhile, MMAFighting reports that Holm’s coach Mike Winkeljohn believes Holly will KO Tate in the second round.
“I think Holly is going to dominate the fight and do real well. There are a lot of things you need to watch for and Miesha is very strong and very dangerous in many ways, but yeah she’s [Holm] been looking good so far.”
This type of banter is absolutely common ahead of a fight. I expect both women to be confident (at least publicly) about their chances. Banter aside, I just do not see Tate as capable of catching Holly (a woman who made Ronda Rousey look like an amateur fighter at UFC 193) completely off-guard.
One MMAFighting commenter named Rapter5000 shared some pretty telling stats about Miesha Tate. Apparently, five of the six times she was KO’d, it was via head kick. He also mentioned that six of Holm’s seven knockout victories came via kicking.
As much as I’d love this fight to go the distance, all signs seem to point to the title match ending with Miesha Tate being kicked in the head and knocked out in either the first or third round. I just can’t see Ronda Rousey watching the same thing happen to Tate that happened to her and then think that’s a road she wants to go down as soon as possible.
In a way, Miesha Tate is being offered up as a sacrificial lamb to determine whether or not the Holly Holm win was a mere fluke. Should Tate be beaten within an inch of her life, not only would this be confirmation, it may add to the psychological weight on Ronda Rousey’s shoulders.
I worry that Rousey is being rushed back into the Octagon for the sake of other people’s bottom line. That said, I do believe that if Miesha Tate were to somehow overcome Holly Holm, it would indirectly free Ronda Rousey of a major psychological burden. Rousey could convince herself that her one loss was a fluke and that Miesha Tate got lucky. She could also tell herself that getting her championship belt back from Miesha Tate would be a breeze.
But what if it isn’t?
There’s been the quiet hope and speculation that a Miesha Tate win would subsequently open the door for a Ronda Rousey win and return to champion status. But what if Tate beats both Holm and Rousey? Rousey would have back-to-back losses of the most devastating kind. It’s fascinating how the destinies of three women are riding on one fight.
Do you think Miesha Tate can succeed against Holly Holm where Ronda Rousey failed? Would Rousey welcome a Tate rematch over a Holm rematch? Share your thoughts below!
[Photos by Andy Brownbill/AP – Steve Marcus/Getty Images]