Just as women's MMA was gaining the measure of exposure, momentum and mainstream acceptance it needed to prosper, the future is now uncertain since Zuffa overtook Strikeforce.
I can't say I have a strong grasp of the widespread opinions on WMMA , but I, for one, have become an avid supporter. Before MMA completely ruined my ability to find enjoyment watching any other sport, I gave the WNBA a try, and -- without divulging any specifics -- let's just say it was an exercise in futility.
I was pleasantly surprised, however, to marvel at the endearing Chute Boxe style of brutality and aggression being quite adequately embodied by female representative Cristiane Santos. Though I'd watched a few fights of early pioneers like Erin Toughill and Roxanne Modafferi, the slow but steady suffusion of captivating matches in Strikeforce further acquainted me with the female fighting populace and became a welcome addition to the card.
In what could be one of the last prominent and pivotal pairings for WMMA, Strikeforce welterweight champion Marloes Coenen will defend the title against Miesha Tate in the co-main event at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson. Both are excellent delegates for the genre: articulate, talented, experienced, and dedicated.
Coenen first took up the sport with Martin de Jong in Holland at age fourteen, and now trains alongside the Overeem brothers, Sergei Kharitonov, and a litany of K-1 fighters at the renowned Golden Glory Team. Though surrounded by a squad of esteemed strikers, it's Coenen's icy submission game that few can match, which accounts for fourteen of her nineteen victories. She is a Dutch BJJ champion and earned the bronze at the 2007 ADCC tournament.
After falling to the undisputed 145-pound matriarch "Cyborg" Santos, Coenen moved down to 135-pounds and caught Sarah Kaufman in an armbar to be anointed as Strikeforce champion, then showed gritty determination in her come-from-behind triangle choke against Liz Carmouche.
Miesha "Takedown" Tate scored the silver medal in the 2008 FILA No-Gi grappling tournament, was both a winner (2008) and runner-up (2009) at the FILA USA World Team Trials and a high school state wrestling champion. Tate won the Strikeforce welterweight tournament, decisioning Maiju Kujala and Hitomi Akano, to get a crack at Coenen's belt.
Find the match-up analysis of Coenen vs. Tate in the full entry.
Though I don't think the gap in skill is wide enough to make much of an impact, I'd give Coenen the edge on the feet. She's not really a power puncher, but shows solid technique, footwork and defense. Coenen is shown to the left in her bout with Carmouche, countering the low kick nicely with a quick right hand while employing good defense and head movement.
The Carmouche outcome is relevant because Tate will bring even more formidable takedown abilities and top control to the table (and they were the only good gifs available).
To the right is another scenario from that fight that Tate should re-enact. To defend the advance into the clinch, Coenen latches a tight guillotine that Carmouche counters with an inside trip. Even if solely focused on sprawling, Coenen will struggle to stay afoot against the high-level wrestling of Tate.
Even though her guard is her best weapon, Coenen would be wise to shake off as many takedowns as she can to maximize her slight advantage standing and frustrate the takedown artist.
Coenen will threaten endlessly from her guard and transition from one attack to the other, her hips always staying busy. She has great wrist control and shields herself well from ground-and-pound.
With this being a five-round affair, cardio will be imperative, but both women have engaged in same-night tournaments throughout their careers and shouldn't be adversely affected.
Coenen is always a threat off her back and won't go down easily, but Tate should have the right blend of aggressive wrestling to steal rounds and stay clear of submissions. I envision the first few rounds going to Tate with Coenen surging later in the fight, but she'll forced to pull out another amazing finish. The likelihood for Tate to win a decision seems higher, but the fight is as close as the nearly locked betting lines reflect.
My Prediction: Tate by decision
Gifs via Zombie Prophet of IronForgesIron.com