Reigning women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm (10–0 MMA, 3–0 UFC) will face the first title defense of her UFC career when she steps into the octagon against Miesha Tate (17–5 MMA, 4–2 UFC) at UFC 196 on Saturday.
Tate is the second-ranked woman in the bantamweight division, while Holm is the boxer turned UFC star who stunned former women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 in November with a knockout kick to the head in the second round.
Though a rematch between Holm and Rousey is much anticipated, Holm must first get past the 29-year-old challenger before Rousey can have a chance at regaining the title.
Ahead of the fight, get to know Miesha Tate and her road to UFC 196.
The fighter known as “Cupcake” has wrestling origins. She competed on the boys' team at her high school in Tacoma, Wash., as the only female on the team. She entered the girls' state wrestling tournament and won as a senior in 2005.
Tate’s amateur MMA career began in 2006, when she faced and defeated Elizabeth Posener in her first bout. She went 5–1 as an MMA amateur before beginning her professional career in 2007.
Once turning pro, Tate registered wins in CageSport MMA, Freestyle Cage Fighting (FCF) and Strikeforce, including title victories in the 2009 FCF women’s bantamweight bout over Liz Carreiro, the 2010 Strikeforce women’s bantamweight tournament over Hitomi Akano, and the 2011 Strikeforce women’s bantamweight championship over Marloes Coenen.
Tate, who was named the 2011 Female Fighter of the Year at the World MMA Awards, lost her Strikeforce title to Ronda Rousey by first round armbar submission at a main event bout in 2012, beginning a rivalry that would carry over to the UFC.
Tate made her UFC debut in 2013 after Strikeforce folded. In her first fight and the second-ever women’s UFC bout, she took on Cat Zingano in The Ultimate Fight 17 finale. Tate, who ultimately fell to Zingano in the third round by way of a TKO, was granted the opportunity to fight then-champion Rousey in 2013 after Zingano sustained a knee injury requiring surgery.
In a rematch of their Strikeforce fight at UFC 168 in 2013, Tate fell to Rousey yet again, this time in the third round by armbar. Despite the loss, Tate was then the first fighter to take Rousey beyond the first round.
Since her 2013 loss to Rousey, Tate has won four straight bouts, including victories over Liz Carmouche, Rin Nakai, Sara McMann and Jessica Eye.
Significance of Rousey rivalry
Though Rousey has twice defeated Tate, the attention surrounding their rivalry has helped catapult the UFC women’s division to mainstream relevance.
“I think people will look back at this as one of the monumental rivalries and look back at this as one of those things that really cemented women’s MMA,” Rousey said before the duo’s UFC 168 matchup.
Rousey and Tate became the first-ever female fighters featured in a UFC video game when they appeared in EA Sports UFC 2014.
Both Rousey and Tate have been featured in ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue.
Holm lead up
“I really like her a lot, actually,” Tate said of Holm. “She’s awesome. She’s super fun to hang around, I can see us being friends outside of the Octagon.”
Tate went on to say that she and Holm won’t be held back in UFC 196 by their amicable feelings for one another.
“It’s refreshing and I think it is going to be interesting for the fans to see how much we like each other and still beat the shit out of each other when the cage door closes,” Tate said. “There is definitely going to be no holding back, there is not going to be any pulling of punches. We are going to let the leather fly regardless and that’s going to be exciting. So, for the people thinking that, ‘Oh, they like each other and it's going to be a nice fight and boring.’ Think again. I am coming for that belt, and I don’t care how much I like someone. It is not going to affect the way I take the belt.”
The UFC 196 main card features five bouts, including a welterweight matchup between featherweight champion Conor McGregor (19–2) and veteran Nate Diaz (19–10).