UFC 168 Preview: Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate

Ronda Rousey (7-0, 1-0 UFC) vs. Miesha Tate (13-4, 0-1 UFC)

The biggest fight in women’s MMA history takes the stage as the co-main event of UFC 168 as Ronda Rousey defends the UFC Bantamweight Championship against her rival, Miesha Tate, as they meet for the second time in their careers, and the first time in the UFC Octagon. Rousey is looking to remain undefeated in her career as she enters the fight on a seven-fight win streak. She last fought in February where she submitted Liz Carmouche at UFC 157. Tate enters the fight coming off a loss to Cat Zingano, who was Rousey’s original next opponent. Zingano suffered a knee injury and Tate stepped in as she was close to beating Zingano when they fought in April. Tate is just 1-2 over her last three fights following a six-fight win streak.

Fight Breakdown- Rousey and Tate will meet for the second time following their stints as coaches on season 18 of “The Ultimate Fighter”. It was a heated season and a lot of tension was shown between the two, and they genuinely dislike each other, which should make for an interesting environment come fight time on Saturday night. Rousey was originally scheduled to coach against and fight Cat Zingano after Zingano defeated Tate in April, but a major knee injury right before the filming of TUF forced Zingano from the coaching slot and the fight. Tate came very close to defeating Zingano in April, and the natural fight to make to help build the division was Tate taking Zingano’s place and going against Rousey. Whether or not Tate getting the shot is justified, it has become a highly-anticipated fight and it gets the rematch out of the way while the women’s division continues to further build in the UFC. Rousey and Tate fought in Strikeforce in March 2012 as Tate defended the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Championship. It was only Rousey’s fifth professional fight, and while it may have been sooner than anticipated due to Rousey’s ability to build a fight, she showed she was the real deal as she submitted Tate in the first round with an armbar.

In fact, all seven of Rousey’s wins have come by submission with the armbar in the first round. She has fought some tough competition in her short career. Her first four fights were wins over Ediane Gomes, Charmaine Tweet, Sarah D’Alelio and Julia Budd. It was stiff competition, and the fact that she not only won all four fights in the first round by armbar, but all four wins came in under a minute, and she proved she was ready to fight for the title. It was then that Rousey talked her way into the fight with Tate, and she backed it up with the win. Rousey kept her winning ways in her last two fights, again scoring first-round submission wins with the armbar. She submitted veteran and former champion Sarah Kaufman in just 54 seconds in her final Strikeforce fight. It was then announced in December 2012 that the women would be moving to the UFC in 2013 and Rousey was named the first UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion and scheduled to meet Liz Carmouche in the main event of UFC 157 in the first UFC women’s bout. Rousey had her toughest fight to date against Carmouche and came very close to being submitted when Carmouche took her back. Rousey eventually got the arm and scored the armbar submission with just eleven seconds left in the first round. It was Rousey’s first successful UFC title defense and now she looks to defend it once again.

Tate is a veteran of the division and has been competing since 2007 when she debuted in the BODOG Fight organization. She won six of her first seven fights, including a decision win over Elania Maxwell in Strikeforce in her third professional fight. She returned to Strikeforce in 2009 but lost to Sarah Kaufman. Following that loss, Tate went on a six-fight win streak. She won a one-night tournament in Strikeforce to be declared the top contender, which led to her fighting Marloes Coenen in July 2011 for the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Championship. She submitted Coenen in the fourth round with an arm-triangle, winning the championship and capping off her win streak. She never successfully defended the title, though, as she dropped it to Rousey in her next fight. She got back into the win column with a submission win over Julie Kedzie in August 2012 in her final Strikeforce bout and one of the best women’s bouts of all time. Tate then entered the UFC and squared off with Cat Zingano. She won the first two rounds before being stopped in the third by Zingano. Tate questioned the stoppage and said she could continue, but it was too late. Zingano’s knee injury opened the door for Tate to square off once again with her rival, Rousey, and coach opposite her, and now she looks to get the championship back, only this time in the UFC.

We all know what Rousey is going to be looking to do in this fight and that is get Tate down to the ground and look for the arm. It is up to Tate to keep the fight upright and she does have the better striking skills. She was lit up late by Zingano in their fight, but Rousey isn’t the striker that Zingano is. Rousey does like to close the distance as quickly as possible so she can initiate the clinch, and from the clinch position is where she really starts to take over fights. She has the outstanding judo background being an Olympic medalist in judo, and that judo background gives her a number of different ways to get the fight to the ground. She isn’t afraid to give up her back, and she did in her first fight with Tate and her last fight against Carmouche, but if she gives up her back one too many times eventually it may come back to haunt her. Carmouche had her back tight and almost got in a choke but Rousey weathered the storm and turned the fight around. Tate is a better wrestler than Carmouche and she also has a solid submission game, so if she can get the back of Rousey and keep it, we may see a different result in this fight.

Both of these ladies may fight with a lot of emotion when they step inside the Octagon due to their intense hatred of one another, and emotions can get the best of a lot of fighters. Tate will likely be the more calmer of the two, but it is tough to say whether that could be good or bad. Perhaps Rousey will be looking to end the fight as quickly as possible or perhaps she will be more willing to exchange on the feet. Tate tends to get wild in exchanges and likes to use her striking to set up the takedown. We know that Tate is not afraid of Rousey, but she doesn’t wanna give up that arm again. Tate almost suffered a broken arm in trying to fight off the armbar the first time, and Rousey has let it be known that she will break that arm if given the chance. Perhaps that is the kind of emotion from Rousey that will come back to haunt her in this one as she seems focused and determined to hurt Tate. Tate just wants the belt and to get the sting of losing to Rousey out of her head. Tate is not going to be able to keep Rousey grounded in this one as Rousey is just world-class on the ground and she will find that arm. Tate’s best chance to win is to keep the fight on the feet as long as possible. However, barring unforeseen circumstances, that isn’t going to happen and Rousey will find that arm and get the armbar once again and likely in the first round again.

Why It Matters- This is the biggest fight in the short history of the UFC’s women’s division, and in all honesty, a win by Tate would be the best thing because it would inevitably set up a third fight, which would be even bigger than this one. It is hard to see that happen with Tate being such a big underdog, but anything can happen in a fight. A Tate win sets up the trilogy fight, but a Tate loss sends her out of the title picture as long as Rousey is at the top of the division, so this is a big fight for Tate. A Rousey win sets her up for the fight against Cat Zingano, and there is a handful of challengers waiting in the wings such as Alexis Davis, Sara McMann and Jessica Eye. Rousey also has a big future ahead of her with getting into the movie business, and she has a handful of movie roles coming to her. Her time in the sport may end sooner than she or we think, but she still has plenty left to give to the sport. This fight will cement the first stage of whatever legacy she will leave in the sport.

Prediction- Rousey

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