UFC 168: Rousey v Tate 2

A recent phone interview given by Miesha Tate’s mother to “The Brutally Honest Show” reminded us of the origin of the Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate beef. It also offered interesting insights from the mother of Ronda’s biggest rival, one that highlights Ronda’s significance to the sport in 2012 and probably Ronda Rousey’s importance to it moving forward:

Said Michelle Tate-Schmidt:

“Looking back, a lot of people thought that Ronda should come in. We needed somebody strong in there with the women and somebody that could kind of rock the audience’s attention. Now I don’t mean to put my daughter down by any means, she’s a great fighter, she’s entertaining, she’s got a great following. But we needed more than that. There just wasn’t a Gina Carano anymore. You know what I mean? We needed somebody that was going to do something amazing and rock the boat and I think Ronda was a perfect person for that. Miesha did not think she had earned her place to be in there yet. So yes, I don’t think that ever bode too well with Ronda.”

The rest became history. Rousey became the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight champion after beating Miesha Tate in 2012. After beating Sarah Kaufman later that year, Ronda was promoted to UFC bantamweight champion in 2013 after the merger. Rousey defended her title six consecutive times and built an aura of invincibility that established her as one of the most dominant MMA champions ever, male or female.

Rousey and Tate crossed paths again as coaches at TUF 18. From day one, the rivalry and the hate was evident. Rousey almost walked out when she learned that Miesha would be replacing the injured Cat Zingano as the opposing coach. Each time they went face to face, Rousey wasn’t shy about her dislike of Miesha Tate:

When they fought one month after the finale at UFC 168, Miesha Tate became the first opponent to go past one round with Ronda Rousey. But even after surviving an armbar and triangle attempt in the first two rounds, Rousey submitted Tate in the third round to win her 8th consecutive bout, all by armbar submission. Even when Tate acknowledged defeat, Rousey refused to offer sportsmanship:

Ronda fans said that snub was just part of her competitive personality. But most think Rousey hadn’t moved on from their past and still felt a lot of animosity towards Tate. Their careers went on separately after that.

Tate lost to Cat Zingano in her next fight, giving her the only back to back losses of her career. Counting her loss to Rousey at Strikeforce, Miesha had loso three of four. On the other hand, Rousey quickly became a demigod. She won her next four bouts in a total fight time of 120 seconds and quickly became the face of MMA, not just women’s MMA. She became the first MMA fighter to be on the cover of the bible of boxing, Ring Magazine. She was doing everything from TV guestings, WWE appearances and movies. However, that cloud of invincibility came to a sudden halt last year and in front of the biggest UFC audience ever assembled:

Holly Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey 59 seconds into the second round - Imgur

When her MMA world crumbled, Ronda Rousey retreated to seclusion. When the UFC tried to get her an immediate rematch, she said she needed more time to heal, and rightfully so.

Her conqueror, former world boxing champion Holly Holm, didn’t want to wait for the poster girl to return. She wanted to be an active champion and decided to fight Miesha Tate at UFC 196. Tate had won four in a row since her back to back losses. She wasn’t spectacular but was impressive over Liz Cartouche, Rin Nakai, Sara McMann and Jessica Eye. She had shown tremendous improvement in both her striking and ground game. Most of all, she showed a lot of guts and a lot of heart. Miesha always found a way to win. So at UFC 196, she was a big underdog against the Ronda conqueror. But despite being down in the scorecards, 

She gutted out a fifth round choke out of Holly Holm to become UFC champion:

After her win, UFC President Dana White said the promotion would be pushing for Rousey-Tate 3 but with Rousey scheduled to return in October or November, it’s now Miesha Tate who wants to be active:

“I am the champion, I definitely want to stay active, I want to defend my belt, I want to continue to prove myself so whatever we all sit down and deem as the best route to do that then I’m ready. I’m ready to take on all comers so I think that’s the champion’s job. I’ll stay ready so I don’t have to get ready.”

Tate’s words were reminiscent of what Holly Holm said after beating Ronda Rousey. Now the roles are reversed. It’s Holm who’s asking Tate to give her a title shot, just as she gave her one. But with Dana White and the  UFC wanting Ronda Rousey to have the first crack at Miesha Tate, the UFC women’s bantamweight division is in a dilemma once again. Women’s MMA is back to 2012 all over again, with good competition which is good but without one dominant force that attracts the fans and generates the revenues, like Conor McGregor does.

That’s where Ronda Rousey needs to step in. Rousey and McGregor became the face of MMA, just as they were the face of EA’s game:

But while McGregor took defeat like a champion and enjoyed his spoils, Ronda Rousey has lost like a lost soul more than the bad-ass chick who refused the Miesha Tate handshake. You can’t blame her. Her personal life and relationships have been under scrutiny, she has movie and show business commitments to attend to. Holly Holm and Miesha Tate did a movie together, but other than that, nothing significant. Unlike both, Rousey’s had to deal with more pressure-even more pressure perhaps than McGregor too.

But she’s a champion, the most dominant women’s MMA champion ever-Gina Carano notwithstanding. She was tough, too tough to even challenge Floyd Mayweather Jr. to a fight. That was the Ronda we all fell in love with. That’s the Ronda the sport needs right now. And that would be the Ronda who would put everything in order once again.

Conor McGregor is set to rebound at UFC 200, that’s a good sign. But it’s unclear when exactly Ronda Rousey will return, or if she ever will. Mesh Tate says Ronda “has been broken” and like a shattered glass, she can never be repaired. That’s her opinion. Only Ronda knows what’s inside her mind and heart.

Said Dana White after UFC 196:

“I texted Ronda – she wasn’t watching the fight. I texted her and she said, “What happened?” And I said, “Miesha just choked her unconscious.” She said, “Looks like I gotta get back to work….Well, I don’t know what that means. (laughing) Ronda is scheduled not to come back until October or November. But it doesn’t mean I can’t ask.”

It’s understandable why Dana’s been cautious in asking Ronda. She’s in a make or break position right now. But he has to, for the sake of the sport. Miesha Tate, Holly Holm and more importantly the fans cannot be held hostage at her expense. The sport needs her more than ever. Ronda Rousey has to make up her mind now. No, she doesn’t have to fight soon. She just has to be more definitive.