Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate have fought once before. The result? Rousey’s usual armbar finish. And for Tate, a mangled arm. The question now is whether they should fight again.

This Saturday will see the second-ever female MMA bout inside of the UFC Octagon. The fight, which takes place at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale, will be a contest between Tate and fellow top-10 bantamweight Cat Zingano. At stake will be a title shot and a coaching spot opposite champion Rousey on the upcoming The Ultimate Fighter 18, leading up to their eventual meeting.

Seeing as Tate already lost to Rousey a little over a year ago, does a rematch even sound desirable? Is it something the fans care to see, and has there even been enough time for the fans to believe the result of the fight would be any different than the first meeting between the two?

Well, the answer is yes and no.

The fact that a woman fighting in the UFC is still a fresh occurrence and that Rousey is a big draw weighs heavily in favor of the UFC not having much to lose if Tate does get her second shot at Rousey.

We have to remember that Tate was Rousey’s stepping stone into the stratosphere of immense popularity. Before fans were on board with “Rowdy,” Rousey was just a relatively unknown 4-0 professional fighter and former Olympian that was getting fast-tracked to her shot for a Strikeforce title. Tate, then the champion, claimed this was at least in part due to Rousey’s good looks.

Only when Rousey stepped up her rhetoric leading into their meeting and her words began making a big splash with the media did their fight really start to gain momentum. Add a mean mug and a shove at the weigh-ins, and Rousey had helped to create a more talked-about and watched main event for Strikeforce than the promotion could even do on a free preview weekend for Showtime with its previous event headlined by Luke Rockhold and Keith Jardine.

When it came fight time, Rousey backed up her words and a new MMA darling was born. However, that didn’t end the bad blood between the two, because there was no show of affection after the fight. Tate demonstrated tremendous guts by not immediately tapping to an armbar, and therefore her arm was mangled in the process. But Rousey showed no remorse for what she had to do in order to win and take Tate’s title. She did not even give a congratulatory show of respect to her defeated opponent. Therefore, the book was not closed publicly after their meeting, at least for Tate.

Would you think Tate a liar if she said that there isn’t lingering bad blood or the desire for revenge within her to this day? Tate shared more of a history with Rousey than either of Rousey’s opponents since, and that is something that can be used to sell a rematch.

But would UFC fans want to see that rematch? If the answer is no, then a big part of that would be assuming that those same fans know all about the pair’s history while fighting for Strikeforce and don’t see a need to watch them fight again. Over 400,000 Showtime viewers tuned in to see Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey, whereas 1.2 million viewers tuned in to FX to watch the prelims for the event Rousey headlined against Liz Carmouche at UFC 157 and the pay-per-view buys for that UFC event came in at over 400,000. The same number of people shelled out $60 to watch Rousey fight in a pay-per-view event as did to watch her on the subscription channel Showtime.

The numbers prove Rousey’s popularity has snowballed. In addition, Rousey being in the UFC is something new to many viewers who simply didn’t watch her fight in Strikeforce and would be seeing her possible second meeting with Tate as a fresh fight.

If we take Rousey’s name out of the equation for a minute, we have to remember that Tate is still one of the top five bantamweights in the world. She beat current 145-pound fighter and former top bantamweight Marloes Coenen to win the Strikeforce 135-pound belt, and her most recent losses have been to top fighters and champions Sarah Kaufman and Rousey. Those losses are not something that pushes her below the top-five within the women’s bantamweight rankings. In fact, assuming she gets past Zingano, Tate is still one of the most credible challengers to Rousey’s belt.

After the Rousey loss, Tate put on a “Fight of the Year”-worthy performance against Julie Kedzie at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman. It was an exciting, grueling battle that made UFC President Dana White a fan of Tate’s. This was in a time where Strikeforce was still alive and women in the UFC were still a question of “what if?” Our current hindsight would say that Tate’s scrappy fighting ability was one of the factors that had White licking his chops in anticipation of the day when Tate would be on a UFC main card. And here we are.

Having an entire season of TUF to sell a fight with Rousey would be enough to ensure that the winner of Tate/Zingano will have plenty of promotional intrigue heading into a title challenge. Zingano creates the potential for the UFC to build a new star, but Tate has a history of friction with the champion, and that sort of thing brings interest into a fight. The reality series will only help to build tension between the two, and the legions of UFC fans who have never witnessed the initial meeting will look forward to a Rousey clash with Tate.

However, it’s not as though the UFC is forced to create a rematch between Tate and Rousey. There are plenty of women that could get a shot at Rousey.

We have another former Olympian in Sara McMann taking on Sheila Gaff at UFC 159 in April, and Alexis Davis and Rosi Sexton squaring off at UFC 161 in June. But those fighters are yet to make a case for a title shot. Some are moving up to 135 pounds after previously competing at flyweight, and the most appealing contender, McMann, is likely being groomed as the next contender, after Rousey meets either Tate or Zingano.

As I’ve suggested elsewhere, the UFC is likely banking on Rousey’s ability to maintain her status as a champion until the other female fighters gain enough attention in their own right. So, for the time being, Tate and Zingano are the next step in the UFC’s grand plan to have Rousey as its champion and cash cow (If all goes according that particular conspiracy theory of mine).

No one can tell how the future of women in the UFC will actually evolve, but a rematch with Tate will not stifle its popularity. In fact, it is quite likely to do the opposite, thanks to the tension between the two female warriors and the ability of the UFC’s promotional machine to relay that sense of bad blood to its audience.

A segment of the hardcore fans will moan about seeing Tate fighting Rousey again. They will hope to see Tate lose, so they can say I told you so. They’ll define an entire career and sum up the truth behind the UFC’s business decisions all in one Tweet. They believe they know what is best. Yet, as much venom as they spew, they will be right there to watch the card for one reason or another. Whether it be for another interesting fight on the card or just for the chance to validate their opinion, they’ll be there.

Do you think the UFC feels the need to listen to the small segment of fans against a rematch with Tate when the big picture of Rousey’s success is still in place? Of course not. Unless enough people don’t buy the pending pay-per-view pitting the winner of Tate vs. Zingano against Rousey, the UFC has no reason to change its course towards setting up a rematch, assuming Tate wins on Saturday. And remember, if Tate does get the rematch, it’s not like she is anything less than deserving.

If Tate loses to Rousey again, many fans will call it a case of “I told you so.” But they can’t tell you Tate isn’t the right person for the job.

Photo: Miesha Tate (L) faces off with Ronda Rousey (MMA Junkie)

About The Author

David Massey
Staff Writer

David Massey studied Humanities and Art History at the University of Central Oklahoma. He first found interest in MMA from the first TUF show and has been hooked ever since. He began posting on mmajunkie then submitting Sunday Junkie entries and that began his interest in writing about MMA. Through twitter David found other MMA enthusiasts and began contributing articles to marqueemma.com. He looks forward to growing as a writer and being a part of the sport he loves.