Like most people who watched UFC 193, Miesha Tate was shocked to see Holly Holm handle Ronda Rousey with relative ease to capture the bantamweight championship.
Before Holm, Tate had been the benchmark for hanging tough with the Olympic judoka. In their first meeting, which occurred under the Strikeforce banner, Tate was lauded for her mettle because she didn’t tap immediately in the first round despite having her arm hyperextended to an uncomfortable angle. In their rematch, “Cupcake” became the only Rousey victim to survive past the first frame before ultimately submitting to an armbar in round three.
Now that Holm has vanquished what appeared to be an unbeatable champion, Tate knows she has a daunting challenge ahead of her when she faces the Jackson-Wink MMA product in the UFC 197 co-main event on March 5.
“I’m probably I’m more anxious for this fight than I would be for another fight with Ronda because I feel like this is a whole new puzzle,” Tate said during a press conference on Wednesday. “I was maybe just starting to figure out that Ronda puzzle, but this is that entirely new challenge with a great support system, and I think that Holly’s coaches are far better than Ronda’s. And I think that makes her a more dangerous opponent.
“She will rise to any occasion, as we can see. She surprised me, and I think she surprised the world. I wouldn’t put it past her to try to do it again.”
Rousey’s association with Glendale Fighting Club and, in particular, coach Edmond Tarverdyan came under scrutiny following her loss to Holm in Melbourne. It appeared that “Rowdy” failed to make any adjustments as the bout progressed and was unprepared to deal with serious adversity for the first time in her career. Despite that criticism, Rousey has said that she will remain with Taverdyan when she does return to the Octagon.
Meanwhile, Holm’s Albuquerque, N.M.-based team is one of the sport’s most well-respected camps. However, “Cupcake” employs a far different approach in the cage than Rousey, which should give their matchup a different feel.
“I think Holly is the kind of competitor that will rise to any level of competition and that what makes her dangerous,” Tate said. “I think my style is very different than Ronda’s, so it will be a different puzzle for Holly and that what makes this sport interesting.”
Tate’s path to a second UFC title shot has been filled with twists and turns. After beating Jessica Eye in what she thought was a No. 1 contender bout at UFC on Fox 16 this past July, Tate watched as Holm leapfrogged her in the pecking order. Then, despite Holm’s wishes, the Las Vegas-based promotion pushed for an immediate rematch with Rousey at UFC 200. It was only when Rousey’s movie obligations interfered and the ex-champ requested more time off that Tate was finally able to receive her opportunity.
There may have been some angst and anguish along the way, but that only makes the chance that much sweeter for Tate now that it’s here.
“It was kind of a whirlwind of emotions. I don’t take a title opportunity lightly. I put my whole life into this sport and I give everything that I have to give,” Tate said. “When I think I’m gonna get a title shot I’m like a hungry beast. It’s like you just took that steak away from me. Now here we are and everything worked out the way it was meant to work out. Fate does have a way of finding itself and I think this is where I’m supposed to be.”