Miesha Tate will get yet another shot at becoming the UFC women’s bantamweight champion. She became the first challenger to champion Holly Holm in the co-main event of UFC 196. Miesha Tate versus Holly Holm is second in UFC 196’s billing, only to the men’s welterweight title bout between Connor McGregor and Nate Diaz.
Tate versus Holm has a chance to steal the show. If nothing else, when Miesha Tate seeks out the bantamweight belt for a third time, expect her to fare better than Ronda Rousey did in defending it at UFC 193.
As preposterous as it sounds, Miesha Tate, despite being ambushed by Ronda Rousey twice, is a better opponent for Holly Holm. Styles makes fights.
Think about the build up for UFC 193. Few people saw Holly Holm as ready opposition for the seemingly indestructible Ronda Rousey. Holly Holm, a boxer by trade, taking up space inside the octagon and not necessarily tearing things up. This was in spite of her undefeated record. Against inferior competition she struggled. She could not possibly stand toe to toe with Rousey – the class of the bantamweights, could she?
Holm’s domination over Rousey was a six minute beat down that will stand as the most unexpected defeat in sports since Buster Douglass stunned the boxing world by flooring heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson. That dominant performance by Holm makes her the new boogeyman of the UFC women’s ranks one would think.
If anyone believes that Holly Holm will lay to waste Miesha Tate the way she did to Ronda Rousey, do not rush to that decision so fast. Once again, styles makes fights. And fighting Tate is a risk that Holm will assume.
What she hopes will come with facing Tate is for her to be recognized as her own entity, not just the woman who defeated the champ.
“I want to be Holly Holm, that’s my goal. I don’t want to just be known as ‘Holly, she beat Ronda.’ I want to be known as a great fighter and I’m on that journey right now. Everybody was wondering how long it would be until my next fight and guess what? It ended up being sooner, rather than later.
Those comments came in an ESPN interview, leading up to the fight with Miesha Tate.
“And not only do I want people to talk about my fights, but let’s talk about all the other fighters that are doing such great things in this division. Miesha Tate has over 20 fights. She might have more than anyone else in the division. Look, did Ronda do a lot for the sport? Yes. Did she do it by herself? No.”
Holly Holm is a boxer who happens to be – oh by the way, a mixed-martial artist. But she is a boxer first, second and third. Anyone who believes they can outbox Holm, who was undefeated as a boxer during her time in the ring, is misguided.
Out-boxing Holly Holm was the mistake made by Ronda Rousey. Rousey, who to be fair, had never been hit, was finally hit. As they say in boxing, you have a plan until you get hit. Ronda Rousey had the plan to out hit a boxer, got punched and never quite recovered. It was a downward spiral after that.
Miesha Tate will not fight with that misguided strategy against Holm.
Tate’s stand up game and striking defense alone will keep things close. In order to score points on Holm, Miesha Tate will have to force the champion to fight on the mat. When opponents make Holm do something besides stand up and strike, she becomes like most other UFC fighters.
Grappling, fighting in clinches and takedowns are areas where Miesha Tate can take advantage. Tate must be adept to not standing straight up and taking punches as Ronda Rousey did at UFC 193. If she can do so, do not be surprised if this bout goes the distance. Although not many people expect Miesha Tate to score an upset against Holly Holm, her experience in the octagon, along with her resilience can push over the champion and into an unlikely scenario where she would meet Rousey for a third time, just as the champion this time.
When asked about the possibility of winning, then facing Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate assured everyone that her focus is on UFC 196.
“Right now, there’s no other match than Saturday. There’s no looking beyond this and I don’t know if Ronda’s ever going to come back. I can’t bank on what’s next when I have to accomplish this first.”
Miesha Tate may not defeat Holly Holm at UFC 196, but expect that match to steal the show. Also, look for the UFC stalwart, Miesha Tate to put up a much better challenge than Ronda Rousey. Do not be surprised if she pulls off a win.
[Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images]