Less than two years ago on March 3, 2012, Miesha Tate and Ronda Rousey crossed paths in what was a much more meaningful fight than just one for the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight championship. In reflecting on women’s MMA since that fight, it’s clear the winner was going to be responsible for paving the way for the opportunities we see for the ladies today.

It’s interesting to think what may have transpired if Tate had beaten Rousey. Would “Cupcake” have been able to bring attention to the sport in the same way “Rowdy” has? Would Tate have developed the same type of relationship with UFC President Dana White and helped bring a women’s division to the UFC? Would fans have jumped on board with Team Tate in the same way they have with Team Rousey, or does Tate’s passive-aggressive behavior do more harm than good in promoting women in the sport? While those questions may remain hypothetical, there’s an elephant in the room as to whether or not popularity for the women can continue to rise without somebody like Rousey as the UFC champion.

The UFC has no doubt gone all-in with the female fighters, as exemplified by the recent signing of 11 Invicta strawweights and the announcement that The Ultimate Fighter 20 would revolve around them. All of these recent major events within the women’s side of the sport have come to fruition due in large part to the media attention Rousey has received. Would Tate beating up on Rousey halt that momentum?

Not at all.

Should Tate prove that Rousey is indeed beatable, she’d immediately become the face of women’s MMA, and it’d most likely be refreshing to the droves of fans who are tired of hearing about Rousey in seemingly every other MMA article. One of the many reasons MMA is such a beautiful sport is because it is so unpredictable. If one takes a look at all the “experts” who handicap the fights, you’ll see that it’s unlike trying to predict the winners of any other sport. Fans want a dominant champion, even if they hate them, but change at the top of the division is something that’s good for the sport and keeps the interest levels high. Take, for example, the UFC middleweight division. Although it had arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all time defending the title for nearly seven years straight, it was also amongst the most least talked-about divisions until Chris Weidman knocked out Anderson Silva earlier this year.

People will tune into UFC 168 for two reasons. They will want to see if Weidman’s knockout was a fluke, and they will want to see Rousey get beat. That’s a compliment to Rousey. She has been built up by the UFC as a larger-than-life figure who can’t be stopped. Her attitude doesn’t do anything to detour from this notion, and frankly, there’s a large number of people who are sick and tired of hearing about her. Tate beating Rousey would do nothing but good things for the sport and the continued success of women’s MMA.

Rousey will no doubt come into the Octagon and start with an aggressive offensive attack. She’ll put her head down and throw punches while coming towards Tate in an effort to get her within her grasp. I know it, you know it, Tate’s camp knows it—it’s not a secret. A Tate victory, assuming it stems from an exciting fight, would just lead to another six months of Tate vs. Rousey banter leading up to an inevitable third fight between the two. The outcome of all this would continue to lead the movement in women’s MMA.

Essentially, we’ve come full circle. If Rousey loses, her allure is diminished a bit. If Tate loses, she becomes another face in an ever increasing roster of talented female fighters. Although nearly two years have passed, the stakes are eerily the same leading up to their championship fight on Saturday night in Las Vegas. They just hate each other a bit more this time around.

About The Author

Joe Chacon
Staff Writer

Joe Chacon is a Southern California writer that has also spent time as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, as well as a Staff Writer for Operation Sports. Joe has a passion for the sport of MMA, as well as most other sports.