Since Zuffa, the UFC's parent company, bought Strikforce last year, there has been a lot of speculation over what will happen to the female divisions. In the past, UFC President Dana White has been adamant that women will never fight in the UFC. White has been known to change his mind and this Saturday Tate and Rousey have the chance to give him food for thought in one of the most high profile and eagerly awaited female fights for years. I broke down the card over at MMAplus, but here is the slightly more opinionated jiMMA version.
I may not have enjoyed the manner of the fights promotion, but there is no doubt that this fight has garnered more interest than any female MMA bout in a long time. On Saturday night, women's mixed martial arts may well take a giant leap towards the spotlight.
- Miesha Tate is on a six fight win streak, including wins over Hitomi Akano, Soilla Gurgel and Marloes Coenen.
- This will be Tate's first title defense since winning the strap.
- Ronda Rousey has finished the first four fights of her career by armbar, all within the first minute.
Miesha Tate is a well rounded fighter with a strong wrestling base, decent striking and good submissions, mostly using these strikes to close distance and set up take downs. Tate has great ability to pressure opponents against the fence and tends to work grueling persistant take downs, rather than explosive ones.
Due to Rousey's early finishes, we have not yet seen her stand up game. She has seemed to flinch when hit but then she has had the composure to find a throw and a submission. She has taken opponents down with ease so far which should come as little surprise as she is an Olympic bronze medalist judoka. Like all fighters with a non-striking background Ronda tells us she has been working on her striking and it is coming along brilliantly.
Head to Head
For Rousey, it is safe to assume that her gameplan remains the same. Her undeniable strength is her judo and she will look to take Miesha down and finish her on the mat. Should Tate decide to and be able to keep things standing, it will be intriguing to see how Rousey's striking has really been coming along. It will also be interesting to see how the weight cut treats her.
Tate has said going in to this fight that wrestling beats Judo every time but Rousey would beg to differ. Tate might wiser not to clinch with a fighter with hips as strong as Rousey's and with such skillful throws. That being said, submitting Tate would no doubt prove a lot tougher than her previous opponents. She may need to leave her comfort zone, refrain from wrestling and look to pick Rousey apart from distance.
I am surprised at the bookmakers and many pundits siding heavily with Ronda Rousey. While her Olympic background and impressive debut year in the sport show that she should not be ruled out, backing her to win is also a strange decision. She has no experience in an MMA contest against top competition and has never competed at this weight class. Tate on the other hand has defeated some of the best fighters in her division and has been training all aspects of the game together for much longer than Rousey.
I expect Tate to keep enough distance to worry Rousey from the outside and, as the challenger wears down though the fight, begin get the better of clinch exchanges.
Miesha Tate by unanimous decision.