In the end, Miesha Tate found herself in the same hopeless position as Ronda Rousey’s first four opponents in mixed martial arts.
The undefeated Rousey submitted Tate with a first-round armbar to win the women’s bantamweight championship in the Strikeforce “Tate vs. Rousey” headliner on Saturday at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The reluctant tapout came 4:36 into round one, with Tate’s left arm grotesquely hyperextended between Rousey’s legs.
“She was much more savvy on the ground than I had anticipated,” Rousey said. “She’s good, she’s legit, but I don’t feel that bad about [the armbar finish].
“I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt since I kind of started [the bad blood between us], but after the weigh-ins, when she got in my face and I pushed her back and she said I should be fined for head butting her ... if you’re going to try to act hard, just follow up with it. Don’t pull back and say I should get a fine. I thought that was kind of messed up.”
Tate held nothing back, came out firing and tagged Rousey (5-0, 3-0 SF) with a stout right hand during their opening exchange. The 2008 Olympic bronze medalist responded with the first of her two takedowns and transitioned immediately to an armbar. Tate freed herself and initiated a scramble that result in her taking the decorated judoka’s back.
Eventually, they returned to their feet, and Rousey scored with a beautiful judo throw. She then moved to mount, punched Tate (12-3, 4-2 SF) into surrendering her back and latched onto the arm again. This time, there was no escape, and Tate’s decision not to tapout immediately likely cost her some damage to her arm.
“[The arm] is a little sore, but I came here to put on a fight,” she said. “I really didn’t like her, so I wanted to come out hard. I got a little overzealous, and she caught the arm. I’ve got to give her respect. I do respect her as an athlete.”
Rousey has finished all five of her professional opponents and all three of her amateur opponents with armbars inside of one round. She figures to next face former champion Sarah Kaufman, a majority decision winner over Alexis Davis on the undercard.
“I would welcome [the opportunity], for sure,” Rousey said. “I was impressed with both of their performances. I’m really glad to see the ladies bring it. Whoever the fans want to see. I feel Sarah Kaufman got a little cheated out of this title shot, so I think it’s the right thing to give her the next one.”
Thomson Topples Noons, Eyes Melendez
Former Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson utilized takedowns and a suffocating top game in capturing a unanimous decision from K.J. Noons in the co-main event. All three judges scored it the same: 29-28 for Thomson (19-4, 9-3 SF), perhaps setting the stage for his rubber match with Gilbert Melendez.
Thomson struck for takedowns in all three rounds, opened a small cut near Noons’ left eye and effectively neutralized the onetime EliteXC champion’s considerable boxing skills. “The Punk” upped the aggression in the third round, as he scored with a trip takedown, locked in an arm-triangle choke and nearly finished it in the center of the cage. Noons (11-5, 3-3 SF) escaped, only to find himself mounted, exhausted and unable to return to an upright position.
For Thomson, the performance left a lot to be desired.
“[My performance] was s---. How else do you explain it? It was s---. I haven’t fought in 15 months. I tried something different because I was always getting hurt,” he said. “The bottom line is that I got [a] staph [infection] twice during my camp, and I couldn’t train, so my conditioning was s--- and my fight was s---.”
Thomson now turns his attention towards Melendez, the current Strikeforce champion at 155 pounds. The two men have split their two previous meetings.
“I do feel that [the rubber match with Melendez] is next,” he said. “I’m going back to the way I used to train, and if I get hurt, I get hurt. I’m going to go back to training super hard and super aggressive for 12 weeks. I’m going to make sure that I whoop Gilbert’s ass.”
Misaki Outpoints Daley, Takes Split Verdict
A fearless, straightforward game plan highlighted by clean power punching carried 2006 Pride Fighting Championships welterweight grand prix winner Kazuo Misaki to a split decision over Paul Daley in a featured showdown at 170 pounds. Two of the three cageside judges, Darryl Wise and Otto Torriero, sided with Misaki (25-11-2, 2-0 SF) by 30-27 and 29-28 counts; a third, Justin Floor, cast a dissenting 29-28 vote in Daley’s favor.
Misaki had Daley backpedaling in rounds one and two, stinging the Brit with heavy counterpunches. Caught off guard by a man willing to exchange with him, Daley, a noted striker, chose instead to move the fight to the ground. He scored with four takedowns in the 15-minute encounter but did little damage with them -- until the third round.
There, Daley (29-12-2, 2-3 SF) opened a gnarly cut near Misaki’s left eye with a short elbow from the top. Blood flowed instantly, and the cageside physician was brought in to clear the Japanese veteran for further contact. Allowed to continue, Misaki picked up his pace, resumed his efforts on the feet and kept Daley on his heels.
Sayers Guillotine Finishes Smith
Lumumba Sayers submitted former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Scott Smith with a first-round guillotine choke in a middleweight showcase. Smith (17-10, 3-5 SF) asked out of the match 94 seconds into round one.
Sayers (6-2, 1-1 SF) showed no regard for his opponent’s noted punching power. He backed up Smith with a stout right hand roughly half a minute into the bout and later hoisted the Californian skyward for a powerful slam. Not long after, Smith left his neck exposed. Sayers capitalized, locked down the choke and sent the UFC veteran to his fourth consecutive defeat.
‘Jacare’ Choke Submits Marunde
Former Strikeforce middleweight titleholder Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza submitted Bristol Marunde with a third-round arm-triangle choke in a featured matchup at 185 pounds. The tapout came 2:43 into round three.
Souza (15-3, 5-1 SF) -- a five-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and the 2005 Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist -- established his superiority on the feet from the outset. The 32-year-old X-Gym representative cracked Marunde (12-7, 0-1 SF) with a counter right hand in the first round, wobbled him with a left hook in the second and mixed in takedowns throughout.
In the third period, Souza scored with a takedown, moved to Marunde’s back and trapped the American in the fight-ending choke when he turned to face him on the ground. From there, the submission was a formality, and Marunde, a late replacement for Derek Brunson, saw his four-fight winning streak grind to a halt.
Souza did not hide his desire for a rematch with the man who dethroned him, reigning Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold.
“Our last fight was pretty close. Anyone who saw the fight knows it was a very close fight,” he said through a translator. “I deserve another chance at the belt, and I want it bad.”
More Strikeforce “Tate vs. Rousey” »
• Strikeforce ‘Tate vs. Rousey’ Prelims: Sarah Kaufman Victorious in Slugfest
• Strikeforce “Tate vs. Rousey” Play-by-Play