Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate: Lost in the Shuffle

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Matt Hughes once said that you weren’t a champion until you successfully defended your title, and this Saturday at UFC 196, Holly Holm will attempt to do just that. While all the drama surrounding UFC 196 has been centered on Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz, the woman’s bantamweight championship fight between Holm and perennial contender, Miesha Tate, seems to be getting lost in the shuffle; and one could even make the argument that this fight should be the main event of the evening since it is after all for the title.

Holly Holm vs. Miesha Tate: Lost in the Shuffle

Four months ago in Melbourne Australia, Holm pulled off the upset of a life time with a head kick knockout over the former champ, Ronda Rousey, to solidify her place atop the women’s division. Flash-forward to UFC 196, Holm is making her first defense against a very dangerous challenger, and no one is talking about her. Maybe it’s for no other reason than McGregor is on the card, but it’s not a stretch to say that the women’s champion isn’t getting the attention and coverage she deserves. Holm’s first title defense is very important for her career, and comes with a tremendous amount of pressure.

“I feel like there’s pressure that I put on myself regardless,” Holm said. “My last fight, was you know what, nobody thinks I can do it, but I think I can. I was telling everybody I believed I could do it. The pressure was, I didn’t want to be a liar. I wanted to prove to people that I was really feeling that way for a reason.”

The title fight this weekend will be the first in UFC women’s bantamweight history that won’t feature Rousey, and the significance of the bout isn’t lost on the former champ. “I want to be the one to beat (Holm), so I don’t want anyone else to take the honor of beating her but myself,” Rousey told TMZ Sports about the Tate-Holm fight. “I want (Holm) to win.” Tate, who apparently still isn’t fond of Rousey, recently said she’d like to take that dream away from Rousey. “If that’s what (Rousey) wants, sorry, but I’m going to ruin that for her,” Tate told USA Today. “I would like to see Holly and Ronda fight again, but it just may not be for the belt.”

Tate (17-5) is currently on a four-fight win streak coming into her fight against Holm, and may be a more difficult fight for the champion than Rousey. “She’s gritty,” Holm said. “That makes it hard to make a clean fight. It’s hard to control that type of a fight. Her strength is her grittiness, for sure. She’s down for the grind, for sure, if you land a good shot, you don’t want to assume that’s going to be the end of the fight. You need to stay focused. She waits for the mistake. She’s in there. She’s in there physically and mentally to keep up with the grind. They can even make the fight look messy.”

‘Cupcake’ is confident going into her second shot at UFC gold. “I really think that I’m Holly Holm’s kryptonite,” Tate told FOX Sports. “I am the worst matchup that Holly could ask for. I have more ring experience. I have a wrestling background, which is a threat there and it’s a completely different style of takedowns. She has never fought a girl even close to my style in MMA.”

Saturday’s championship fight may prove to be very important for the careers of both women. Tate needs to prove that she is at that championship level in the UFC. While she did hold the women’s Strikeforce title, she has had trouble against the elite in the UFC (Rousey and Cat Zingano), and in all likelihood, a loss to Holm could be her last title shot. Holm on the other hand, needs to cement herself as the champion. She shocked the world by defeating Rousey, but now she needs to get past her first title defense and prove that she is the future of the women’s division, while not getting lost in the McGergor-Diaz circus.

 

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