Josh Hedges via Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
This past weekend in Seattle, UFC President Dana White put the spotlight of the MMA world on Ronda Rousey. At the press conference for the UFC on Fox 5 event, White crowned Rousey the organization's first women's bantamweight champion and announced her debut bout under the UFC banner would come against Liz Carmouche. The two women will square off in the main event of UFC 157 in Anaheim Calif., and while the news created a media frenzy throughout the MMA universe, there was one female fighter none too pleased with the turn of events.
Former Strikeforce bantamweight champion, and Rousey rival Miesha Tate, felt slighted by the organization passing her over and granting the fight to Carmouche. The first WMMA fight inside the Octagon will no doubt be a historic event, and "Cupcake" was angered the organization didn't offer her the opportunity, to not only grab a shot at redemption against the "Rowdy" one, but have a moment in the spotlight she feels is deserved.
A frustrated Tate turned to the media and vocalized her opinion on a number of subjects ranging from the UFC seemingly putting "all their eggs" in Rousey's basket to the notion she had rejected the fight when in fact the opportunity was never presented. The situation left Tate jaded and on the outside of the UFC latest endeavor, at least for the time being.
While Tate has a right to be somewhat upset by the announcement, I believe there is a way to resolve the issues at hand.
If her fear is that a Carmouche upset will bring the UFC's vision of a women's division to a crashing halt, the best option is to build a number one contender to the bantamweight crown. But rather than simply place Tate in the "on deck" position, the organization needs to line her up with the one female fighter other than Rousey the MMA world goes crazy for -- a Brazilian wrecking machine who goes by the name "Cyborg".
Here is why I believe a Tate vs. Cyborg fight makes all the sense in the world.
Bringing Depth to the Picture
At the present time, Rousey versus Carmouche is the only WMMA fight on the UFC's agenda. In the past, White's biggest point of contention with bringing women into the UFC fold was a question of depth. He didn't believe there was enough marketable talent in the 135-pound ranks to build a solid division. While Invicta and Strikeforce have proven there are plenty of talented fighters who compete in that weight class, the hard truth comes down to the ability to sell those women to the UFC's core audience.
At the previously mentioned press conference in Seattle, White admitted the real fight the organization wanted to launch their venture into WMMA would have been Rousey vs. Cyborg. This ultimately wasn't possible because the February time line wouldn't provide Cyborg with a large enough window to cut down from featherweight to make the 135-pound requirement.
With the main event set for UFC 157, this extends the window for Cyborg to not only make the cut down to bantamweight, but to also take a fight in the interim. If Tate was willing to take a bout with the former champion, it would provide the UFC with another marketable women's matchup and determine a true number one contender.
The fight could potentially take place in late Spring or early Summer, therefore setting up a perfect time line for the winner to get a title shot and adding another marketable option for the promotion.
Tate Can Prove A lot By Facing Cyborg
During her meteoric rise to stardom, the biggest knock on the current champion is that she allegedly chose a lighter weight class in order to avoid facing Cyborg in the early stages of her career. Now with the UFC firmly invested in the Rousey business, she has all the leverage to call the shots. Should Tate maneuver herself into a position where she requests a fight with Cyborg, it could serve to be a strength in the only place Rousey has been questioned.
The biggest cause for concern in this situation is of course the style of fight the Chute Boxe vet brings to the cage. Tate uses a grapple-heavy approach and has struggled when facing an opponent with solid striking skills. In her most recent outing against Greg Jackson-trained Julie Kedzie, Tate was getting dotted up on the feet before securing a fight ending armbar late in the fight.
By comparison, Cyborg's striking ability is on a different planet than the one Kedzie resides, and it is a land filled with brutal knees, elbows and knockout power in both hands. The 27-year old works behind an ultra-aggressive attacking style and if Tate could weather the initial storm, the opportunity to put the fight on the canvas could present itself. Then again, surviving Cyborg's initial onslaught is easier said than done, but Tate's wrestling chops could present an interesting challenge for the Brazilian.
If Tate was able to defeat Cyborg before Rousey was ever able to step in against her, the notoriety gained would raise Tate's stock exponentially. It is also serves to be said that simply calling Cyborg out and agreeing to take the fight, would show the UFC it might be time to heavily invest in the Tate business as well. Win or lose, Tate would get a piece of the spotlight she is looking for.
White said this past week women aren't exactly kicking down the door to fight Rousey, and if that is the case, fewer women are coming anywhere near the door to where Cyborg lives. Should Tate be the brave soul to march up those front steps and throw a police-style knock on that door, the respect factor which appears to be bypassing her could land squarely on her shoulders.
By taking the fight no one wants, Tate would make a statement far more poignant than anything she said to the media this past weekend.