UFC 168: Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate preview and the prognostication

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

Ronda Rousey looks to defend her title against Miesha Tate in a rematch of their anticipated and brutal first bout in Strikeforce at UFC 168. Can Tate pull off the impossible?

Ronda Rousey (7-0) vs. Miesha Tate (13-4) Women's Bantamweight

When we last left our heroes...Rousey was last seen doing her usual feigned indignant honest hillbilly schtick during her stint as TUF coach in season 'does it matter?' of the reality show.

When the MMA world first met her, she was a fascinating story. A real world class Olympian who specialized in Judo but was a diligent student of the game in a sport that barely qualifies as nascent. Right away she started her career with a bang, and with that, the expectations of being the female superstar women's MMA needs.

It was a fun ride watching her mouth her way into a title shot with Tate, only to validate all the hype with a first round armbar that looked like Cannibal Holocaust.

And then somewhere along the way, observers watched Rousey fade into a persona that isn't exactly likeable. Unfortunately that's all I can say about when we last left our hero. During the coach's challenge she curses Tate out unprovoked after beating Tate in rock climbing. Tate responds sarcastically with "stay classy", and Ronda replies by saying "at least I'm up front about it." Yea...I don't have the words either.

The ride is no longer fun for a lot of fans who have now turned their back on Rousey. But there's still the joy of watching her fight, and everyone from her biggest fans to her biggest critics found something to like about her title defense against Liz Carmouche at UFC 157.

For Tate, she would love nothing more than to win her belt back. Although it doesn't come without a healthy dose of irony. Her biggest problem with Rousey's initial title shot was that she didn't deserve it, but here's Tate...fresh off a brutal loss to Cat Zingano.

Does she have a legitimate shot?

What both women can do: Everyone knows Rousey's asset. But it's worth reemphasizing. I keep going back to her win over Julie Budd. When she can't quite get the hip toss, she scores an inside trip. Except instead of simply sliding from half guard into mount Rousey slides into mount from half guard and traps Budd's left arm in the process.

It's not just elite mixed martial arts on display...it's generational talent on display ala Sydney Crosby. And it's easy to see why Dana jumped the gun on the Rousey gravy train.

Tate is a solid scrapper herself. In fact, it wasn't until Tate that Rousey even seemed human. Miesha didn't just have an advantage on the feet but even went tit for tat on the ground when she momentarily gained back control on Ronda. Rousey was never in trouble, but Tate isn't afraid even if she should be.

There's nothing real noteworthy about her striking except that she's technical and tough. Her combinations are fairly standard, but her durability makes her a threat in attrition affairs.

What both women can't do: Rousey is still no daisy when it comes to face punching. She showed some pizzazz against Sarah Kaufman when she tripled up on the jab but other than that has never shown any real interest in standing. Tate clearly landed a few decent shots though nothing life altering. She'll look to keep it standing, even though we thought that last time, and she still fought for a takedown.

So I guess you never know but I feel like Tate really wants to beat her, and clearly takes it all personally...so maybe she'll keep Rousey on her feet. I feel like this may actually play out, but in the end you've just gotta pick Ronda by submission. She's just too good, and Tate isn't the one to trust out gameplanning her.

X-Factor: Good ole' hubris. I wonder what the chances are of Rousey feeling like she should make a statement by beating Tate on the feet? It sounds crazy but Rousey may hate the idea of people questioning whether or not she's a well rounded mixed martial artist.

Ronda seems tough and not the kind of gal who could be easily knocked out. I feel like going out on a limb, and picking Rousey by decision, so I will. I think Rousey keeps it on the feet for extended periods of time, and grapples in spots. It's not a masterful performance, but perhaps it ends up looking like GSP vs. Koscheck. Awkward, but emphatic.

I really have this bizarre hunch that she's gonna be punching a lot. It'll be strange at first, but she'll settle in and won't be deterred by her newfound skill as she enjoys the feeling of punching Tate in the mouth. She's that crazy in my opinion.

In-fight Soundtrack: Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young (because a round one armbar is more likely).

Prediction: Ronda Rousey by armbar, round 4 (I'm still fond of the idea that Rousey wins portions of the bout standing).

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