In less than a week, Miesha Tate will look to wrest the UFC women's bantamweight title from the grip of Ronda Rousey. If Tate succeeds in defeating Rousey at UFC 168, the loss will be the first in Rousey's mixed martial arts career.
That unbeaten streak began in August 2010, when Rousey made her amateur debut. She racked up two more wins as an amateur before going pro in March 2011. As a professional, Rousey has a record of 7-0. Those victories have two things in common. First, they all came via armbar submission. Second, they all came before the end of the first round.
Tate (13-4) has lost to Rousey in the past, surrendering her Strikeforce women's title to Rousey in March 2012.
Heading into that fight, Tate felt that the then 4-0 Rousey did not warrant a title shot. Tate made it clear that she thought Rousey was jumping the line without paying the dues that other fighters had paid. During a recent media scrum, Tate said that those feelings might have caused her to underestimate Rousey as an opponent during their first meeting, a mistake that she will not repeat on December 28.
The other mistake that Tate said she made in the lead up to that fight was allowing Rousey to get under her skin, "She had mental warfare in her arsenal the first time we fought, and I didn't," Tate said. "It wasn't a weapon on my tool belt, but it's something that I learned the hard way.
I learned a lot in that fight. Not only as a fighter, how to be more technically sound, but also how to grow and be more mature as a person. I just let go of those feelings of animosity. That was a choice on my part, and I'm happy right now. I'm right where I want to be."
With fight night fast approaching, Tate doesn't see herself making the mistake of becoming emotionally invested in the fight. Speaking about her opponent, Tate said, "She's just going to be a body in the way of my title, and that's the way I want to keep it. I want to stay emotionally uninvested."
That emotional detachment does seem to have its limits for the former Strikeforce champion. "I just want to punch her," Tate said. "I would love nothing more than to get my first clean knockout with my hands on the biggest pay per view. That would be amazing for me."
Tate said she has her doubts that Rousey will stand and trade punches with her on Saturday. Those doubts are most likely fed by the fact that Rousey's armbar is a puzzle that has yet to be solved.
In the past we have heard that Rousey's opponents drilled and drilled on how to escape her dreaded armbar. Tate said her focus heading into UFC 168 was not getting out of the armbar, but avoiding it entirely. Her thinking in training in that manner is that if she trained to escape the armbar, she was more or less planning on being in the armbar at some point during the fight, and that is not something Tate is planning on, "I'm planning on winning this fight, so that means not getting into that position."
On December 28, we'll find out how successful Tate's plan is when she meets Rousey in the co-main event of UFC 168.
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