Long before they personified women’s mixed martial artist, Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate scrapped in one of the most memorable fights of the last decade. Tate, the Strikeforce Bantamweight Women’s Champion at the time, defended her title against an unproven Rousey on March 3, 2012 in a bout that paved the way for females in the UFC.
With their long-awaited rematch set for UFC 168, it’s a good time to reflect and perform an analysis on what made their first fight significant. It’s important to remember that Tate repeatedly questioned whether Rousey deserved a title shot. After all, Tate clawed her way to the top, jumping from promotion to promotion over a four-year span while Rousey prepared for only her fifth professional fight.
Tate’s lack of patience was her downfall in their first meeting. She began by recklessly swinging at Rousey, leaving the former U.S. Olympian with the opening she needed for a takedown. Rousey, on the other hand, remained calm throughout, assessing her game plan step-for-step. It was evident when she escaped a rear naked choke and got back to her feet. Rousey didn’t panic and utilized her judo background to score a takedown.
Late in the first round, Tate again tried to do too much, losing her balance while striking. Rousey capitalized with a hip toss and set herself up for victory. If Tate cannot keep her composure at UFC 168, look for Rousey to take advantage of Tate’s slip ups.
Perhaps Tate’s overaggressive approach came from underestimating Rousey’s skillset, although it’s hard to ignore an opponent who won each of her four fights by armbar. Tate’s comments about Rousey not being suited for a title fight, along with her overzealous game plan, may have left the champ a little overconfident. Nevertheless, Rousey locked in one of the most disturbingly-sound armbars in MMA history, forcing Tate to tap out.
Since winning the Strikeforce Bantamweight title, now the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship, Rousey has become the face of women’s MMA. Rousey’s nearly flawless victory over Tate highlighted two things: she doesn’t fold under pressure and her superior ground game is complemented by a snake-like ability to avoid submissions.
At UFC 168, the former TUF coaches finally get the rematch fans have dreamt about. Will Tate take a step back and let the fight play out or will she once-again look for an early knock out? Regardless, Tate and Rousey are sure to end 2013 with an unforgettable fight.