Ronda Rousey (12-1, 3 KOs) may have wanted Holly Holm first, but new UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate (18-5, 3 KOs) is the perfect opponent for the former titleholder to rediscover her legs in the octagon.
Having already submitted Tate in both of their previous meetings, many will declare Rousey the champ well before the two fighters step into the octagon later this year.
Yet, the highly anticipated and as-of-now unofficial third meeting between these two groundbreaking brawlers will be a difficult matchup for Rousey from style, experience, and even confidence standpoints. But not as much as Holm might have been.
Tate just reclaimed the belt by choking out Holm at UFC 196 Saturday, and in the process she derailed Rousey’s preferred path back to the title. The formerly undefeated judo and submission expert said she wanted Holm to prevail so she could be the first to beat her.
Evidently, Rousey told UFC president Dana White that she didn’t watch Tate take down Holm.
"Ronda wasn’t watching the fight. I text Ronda and she said, 'What happened?'" White said. “I said, 'Miesha just choked her unconscious,' and she said, 'Looks like I’ve got to get back to work.'"
In one vein, a rematch with Holm provides Rousey the chance to prove she’s a more diverse fighter capable of thwarting boxers or power punchers as equally as martial arts experts like Tate.
While a rematch with Holm may still be on the horizon, staring down Tate for the third time may be just the contest the 29-year-old Rousey needs to regain her confidence and timing in the ring. A bout with Tate would be far more familiar to Rousey than with a stand-up fighter like Holm.
Rousey rose to fame by overpowering and flinging her opponents around the octagon, using their dazed state to find weak spots to employ the patented armbar responsible for nine of her 12 career victories.
Tate, 29, is also unlikely to deter from the style that’s put her atop of UFC. Like Rousey, she finds angles to take opponents down for her submissions and both have only three career knockout victories.
Rousey might argue that she’ll know what to expect in the second go-round with Holm, but she’d still need to strategize for a punch-first fighter rather than a jiu-jitsu expert and wrestler like Tate. Stepping back into the ring with Tate affords Rousey more cushion and really places her back in her comfort zone.
Finding that perfect balance, both physically and mentally, is something Tate is quite aware Rousey may be currently lacking. Rousey only recently began training again, and her modeling and acting endeavors have led to less time in the gym.
"What about Ronda's mentality?" Tate said on The Jay Mohr Show. "I think Ronda is beating herself up over this. She's obviously said that she's so emotional to the point where she's considering crazy things and it's like this is a broken woman.
"I don't know if she'll ever come back the same, but I have proven I can come back from adversity and I do come back and I will come back and there's no one in this sport that can break me. I have the strongest mindset of anybody in there and I don't know where Ronda's at with her mindset, but I have to wonder is she ever going to come back the same?"
That’s the same question everyone’s been asking, with the same thoughts undoubtedly ringing through Rousey’s head as she tries to string together victories again. But Tate’s comments and her fighting style only serve as more motivation and reason for Rousey to prevail once again.