PHOENIX - AUGUST 13: Miesha Tate celebrates after defeating Hitomi Akano of Japan in the Strikeforce Women's Welterweight Tournament Championship bout at Dodge Theater on August 13 2010 in Phoenix Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The main event of this Saturday's Strikeforce show sees Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight champion Miesha Tate (12-2) defending her belt against the undefeated Ronda Rousey (4-0). It's one of the most compelling fights we've seen from women's MMA in some time, and with Gina Carano quite possibly retired and Cris Cyborg's recent drug test failure, it's up to fighters like Tate and Rousey to carry the division.
One of the things that makes this fight interesting is Rousey's record. 4-0 is an impressive start to your career, especially when 2 of those wins come in Strikeforce, but what's really impressive is how she wins. Four fights, four finishes, four armbars, all under one minute. Add in an additional four amateur bouts, all with the exact same sub-1 minute armbar victory. Whatever you may think of her level of competition, that is a scary degree of domination right there. So the obvious questions:
Can Rousey do the same to Miesha Tate?
And can the judoka's dominant run be stopped?
Despite these impressive performances (and make no mistake, they are impressive), Rousey is vulnerable, particularly in her stand-up game. Once she has a hold of you, she has used her superb Judo skills to secure the takedown and quickly transition to an armbar. Where she leaves openings is in her ability to secure the clinch. Rousey's striking is predictable - she throws the left jab, often doubling it up, then grabs the head in a greco-roman style one arm clinch. But as she throws those jabs, she has two dangerous tendencies. First, she reaches out too much, leaving her defenses open for a counter. Second, she drops her head as she comes in, opening herself up for an uppercut. These are holes that can be exploited.
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What's tricky is that, while Rousey leaves these openings, they're also very small. So can someone find these openings? Absolutely. But it will need to be a precise technical striker. And in Miesha Tate, that's not what I see. Tate has improved her striking over the years, but she remains a slow puncher who is a bit flat footed. She also does not respond well to being hit, and has a tendency to go into pure defensive mode. Because of this, she has a tough time countering her opponent's strikes, and that is the exact skill needed to stop the Rousey clinch and takedown.
In the end, Rousey can be beaten, but Tate is not the woman to do it. For that, you need a focused striker. And it just so happens that woman is also fighting this weekend. Sarah Kaufman has the power and she has the technique to put a stop to Rousey.
So while Tate vs. Rousey is indeed a good fight, and one that holds my interest, it's not the women's fight I am most interested in. With a little luck, we'll soon see Ronda Rousey vs. Sarah Kaufman in a true test of Rousey's stand-up, and the best women's MMA fight out there today.