Three birds, one stone. I could have easily made this into three separate articles but I feel like it can all be summed up right here.
After beating two girls in one night at Strikeforce Challengers 10, what would Miesha Tate do for an encore? Her victories on that night earned her the right to challenge then champion Marloes Coenen for the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Title. However, Tate would have to wait due to the knee injury she would suffer during training for “Rumina”. When she did finally get her shot almost a year later, it would be Tate who would choke out submission specialist Coenen. She would also become the new face of WMMA in the process. Hopefully Miesha Tate enjoyed every second spent as the Strikeforce golden girl. Because nothing could prepare her for the freight train headed her way in 2012.
2011 was a breakout year for Ronda Rousey. She competed a total of five times, four professionally, and once on the amateur circuit. All five fights ended with Rousey having her hand raised in 49 seconds or less. So for a girl that hadn’t even competed professionally in the sport until March of 2011 to get a title shot, you can imagine the disgust that was shared between her contemporaries. So what if Sarah Kaufman would have gotten the title shot she deserved at the time? What if Liz Carmouche was given a shot at Tate due to the success she had early against Coenen in their title fight? Or how about an immediate rematch for Coenen? Maybe Coker could’ve even given a shot to any one of the talented competitors in the women’s 135 lb division. The Baszler’s, Davis’, or Nunes’ of the world were certainly more deserving than the “Judo” Gene Lebell trained smack talking Californian with only four wins and an average fight time of under 35 seconds, right? All I can say is that in hindsight, we would’ve been robbed of some of the greatest moments MMA saw during 2012.
The air inside of the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio that night was on a different level than your average fight night. The boo birds were out in full force when Josh Thomson and KJ Noons put on a lightweight snuggle fest for the ages in the co-main event of the evening. Two female competitors would have to come out and save the show after the men nearly put everyone to sleep.
Immediately after Thomson and Noons’ snoozefest ended, the excitement in the arena reached its breaking point. The shifting of excited and restless fans, the jockeying for position to make sure a potential historic moment wouldn’t be missed, the girls screaming Ronda’s name – it was reminiscent of fans preparing for a headlining rock band to take the stage.
In true hero form, Tate came out to Rihanna’s “Fly”, Rousey, in the role of the villain, made her walk to the cage while Joan Jett and Blackhearts “Bad Reputation” blasted from the loud speakers.
The Champion came out swinging for the knockout blow from the get go. She was eventually tripped to the ground where she somehow got out of Rousey’s trademark hold and back to her feet again. After some intense back and forth action where Rousey almost found herself getting choked out via the rear naked by the champ, Tate eventually found herself back in that tap or snap position, so she tapped. But it was too late. Rousey not only took her title on this night, she also “basically tore everything” in her left arm.
Tate lasted four minutes and twenty seven seconds with Rousey. Her previous seven challengers, and the one that followed Tate didn’t even last a minute.
Rousey remains champion after successfully defending the strap against Sarah Kaufman. She’ll make history along with Liz Carmouche when they become the first two female competitors to compete inside of the world famous Octagon next month in Anaheim.
Tate is taking some time away from the sport after showing the heart of a champion by completing one of the best comebacks of the year this past August in San Diego. She had dropped the “Takedown” moniker in exchange for “Cupcake,” and she would look like nothing less at the start of her bout with Julie Kedzie. After being kicked in the head repeatedly, Tate somehow persevered and came away with a poetic come from behind armbar victory, showing that she could overcome adversity and take a beating with the best of them.
If Tate does come back to the sport, a rematch with Rousey along with a possible TUF coaching stint opposite her arch-nemesis, would etch Tate and Rousey together in stone alongside Shamrock vs. Ortiz, Silva vs. Rampage, Liddell vs. Ortiz, and Sakuraba vs. the Gracies, as one of the great MMA rivalries of all-time.
While 2012 may have very well been the year of the “Rowdy” one, the weeks leading up to Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey were some of the best of the year, and that’s a credit to both Miesha and Ronda. These two showed that WMMA can hang with the big boys, and I believe this rivalry is the reason why the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight division has been absolved into the UFC.