June 13, 2016
UFC 200: Miesha Tate Loss Could Throw Division Into Chaos

It's been a long road for Miesha Tate. In the past, the UFC Women's Bantamweight champions seemed to come up short when it really counted -- such as her division-defining loss to former golden girl Ronda Rousey. And yet Tate didn't give up. She climbed the ranks until she was the undisputed No. 1 contender. She waited in the shadows as she was passed over for opportunities.

And then her golden opportunity came, and it came at the expense of her rival Rousey. When Holly Holm stunned the world, and KO'd Ronda late last year, many expected an immediate rematch. However, the mental and physical state of Ronda Rousey after her first significant loss ruled this possibility out.

Enter Miesha Tate, who went into UFC 196, determined to capitalize on what could have been her final title shot. Although Tate went into the Octagon an underdog, she went into it a woman who studied Holly Holm far more than Ronda did. That observation and training paid off as Tate went on to win by submission.

It's hard to believe that Miesha Tate is the third champion in her division's short history. And yet, her position has created a unique problem. As with Ronda Rousey, it was expected that Holly Holm would be given a rematch shortly. However, the UFC brass has decided to move on. Her next fight will be at UFC 200 against American Top Team's Amanda Nunes.
As I previously wrote, if Miesha Tate were to lose at UFC 200, the UFC Women's Bantamweight division will have three former champions within a year. Not only that but none of them have gotten a rematch. Rather than give the opportunity to the most recent ex-champion, Dana White is already declaring that Ronda, the rustiest off the group, will be the one who gets the chance to challenge for the belt.

This bias is worrying for a couple of reasons.

First, given White's decision-making toward women fighters in the bantamweight division, I'm not confident that all former champions would get a title shot. Should Miesha Tate lose, I am concerned that she will be cheated out of a rematch opportunity along with Holly Holm. In fact, Holly's deplorable lack of opportunities despite her stunning victory over Ronda speaks to my fear of a bias problem.

I wouldn't be surprised to see another "fluke" situation avoided by having Ronda return to fighting women smaller than her, who she could overpower. Even if rematches against Holm and Tate were sensible money-making opportunities, I do wonder if the UFC brass will seek opportunities that allow the return of Rousey's formidable cash cow status.

If Miesha Tate wins, it might delay this version of events. We might even get that rematch that Tate is long overdue. A loss? We can only hope things don't spiral in the chaotic direction of "no title shots for anyone but Ronda!"

I sincerely hope I'm wrong and that all women are granted the fighting opportunities they deserve. The UFC Women's Bantamweight division could be a very exciting one -- aiding women's MMA in getting better global recognition and respect. It doesn't benefit from the spotlight being on a single person.

There are a few good match-ups here, fights that should happen that would help settle the "pecking order." If Miesha Tate wins, there should be a rematch against Ronda Rousey. I believe that if Tate loses, it should be her getting the rematch with Ronda Rousey fighting Holly Holm in a rematch for the right to challenge for the title. Put these fights on the same PPV card, and it would definitely up the hype for the Women's Bantamweight Division.

Such possibilities make one very excited for UFC 200. The division can go in one of several directions based on the outcome of this one fight. It's exciting times -- for now. Hopefully, everything plays out for the benefit of the division and not a misguided attempt to rebuild one fighter's brand.

[Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images]