UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion Holly Holm looks to defend her title this Saturday, March 5 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV against two-time title challenger and perennial top contender Miesha Tate.
Holm’s upset of Ronda Rousey back in November galvanized the nation, yet many fans and pundits are claiming Tate is the tougher matchup for Holm than Ronda was.
Leading up to UFC 193, hardly anyone picked Holm to upset Rousey, and not without good reason. Holm’s prior to appearances in the UFC were, by contrast, lackluster and unremarkable. Rousey, on the other hand, had the composure and confidence of a superhero, cloaked in her aura of invincibility.
That all came crashing down to the canvas, courtesy of a Holm left high-kick that landed flush to Rousey’s chin, separating the Olympic Judoka from not only her senses but the gold strap around her waist.
So what makes Tate a tougher matchup than the demi-God Ronda Rousey? The biggest difference is Tate’s wrestling vs Ronda’s judo. Unlike judoka, wrestlers attack the legs, and do so from a variety of positions and distances. Judoka often rely on closing the distance enough to clinch their opponent, grabbing a head-and-arm position or locking their hips to their opponents’.
A wrestler, on the other hand, can shoot a takedown from farther away or can catch a kick and transition to the ground. Tate has excellent offensive wrestling, and is particularly good in the scramble. If we look at her last four fights, which she won all by decision, we see the evolution of a fighter who continues to round out her game, showing new and improved techniques.
Most of these improvements have been in her striking, and in her transitions between striking and grappling. This is where she has the highest chance of defeating Holm. It’s not that her striking has evolved enough to dismantle a multiple-time world champion kickboxer like Holm, but that her striking has improved enough to set up her takedowns, and the “glue” between the striking and takedowns is where Tate will find her biggest success.
Holm is a sizable betting favorite in this fight at -400, while Tate comes in at +310. While I would agree with Holm as the favorite, I don’t think pundits are giving Tate enough of a chance. We’ve seen Tate’s striking improve drastically in her most recent fights, even dropping Jessica Eye with a textbook overhand right, en route to a dominant UD victory.We’ve seen her out-grapple Olympic silver medalist and former title challenger Sara McMann after rallying back from adversity in the first round. Tate has shown her resilience and her iron will to win, even on the brink of defeat. We have not seen that from Holm so far, at least not in the UFC.
This fight with Tate will most likely present challenges that Rousey did not, and if we’re lucky as fans, we will see Holm face true adversity in the octagon, where only one champion will emerge victorious and take home that belt.
Tate presents new challenges for Holm, but if I’m being honest, I’m picking Holm to win a back-and-forth UD victory on the judges’ scorecards.