Ronda Rousey has never been pushed to a second round. | Photo: D. Mandel/Sherdog.com
UFC Women’s Bantamweight ChampionshipRonda Rousey (7-0, 1-0 UFC) vs. Miesha Tate (13-4, 0-1 UFC)
The Matchup: Based on recent events, Tate makes for a curious No. 1 contender. Were it not for an overaggressive Julie Kedzie in their August 2012 bout, “Cupcake” could very well be looking at a three-fight losing streak. As it is, Tate was only able to get a second shot at Rousey because Cat Zingano, whom Tate lost to at the “The Ultimate Fighter 17” Finale, suffered a knee injury and had to withdraw from her reality show coaching gig and accompanying bout with the champion.
Tate may not be overwhelming anyone with her recent performances in the cage, but her approval rating seems to be much higher than that of Rousey’s after they coached opposite one another on Season 18 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” While that has no bearing on success, it does mean she has gained a few fans along the way.
Rousey, meanwhile, looked more vulnerable than she ever has at UFC 157, her bout with Liz Carmouche marking the first time two women had ever squared off in the Octagon. Carmouche took the Olympic judoka’s back, threatening with a standing rear-naked choke and then a neck crank; the latter appeared to have Rousey in serious discomfort. Ultimately, “Rowdy” survived and prevailed by armbar, as she has in all seven of her professional fights.
What is most amazing about Rousey’s streak is that by now every opponent knows what is coming, and, so far, they have been powerless to stop it. That is a testament to Rousey’s strength, athleticism and technique. If she were the standard one-trick pony, the armbar would have been nullified by now. Instead, Rousey uses multiple variations and setups for her signature hold. Despite relatively unproven standup, she closes distance swiftly, and in the clinch, her judo background gives her a variety of ways to get the fight to the mat. Once there, she transitions smoothly to dominant positions and will expertly isolate her opponent’s arm. Perhaps one day Rousey will have to rely on something other than an armbar, but nothing in recent history suggests Tate will be the person to make her do so.
Working in Tate’s favor is that she will not be in awe of Rousey after having competed against her under the Strikeforce banner in March 2012. Her toughness and resilience is undeniable, whether it is surviving a Rousey armbar or weathering a standup assault from Kedzie. As Tate showed in her first meeting with the champion, she will not hesitate to initiate the action against her celebrated foe.
While Tate is a willing striker, she is often wild in exchanges, which leaves her vulnerable to counters and level changes against an opportunistic opponent. The Washington native prefers to use her punches to set up takedowns, but Rousey is too athletic to be held down in this matchup. Tate also had some success briefly taking Rousey’s back in a scramble in their first encounter, but the moment was fleeting.
The Pick: After filming two different movies before her camp, perhaps Rousey will lack the proper focus for this fight. It is a faint hope and highly unlikely. Rousey takes this by armbar in round one.
Next Fight » Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne