Cat Zingano's injury was a blessing in disguise for the UFC's flagship Ultimate Fighter series.
Women's bantamweight champ, Ronda Rousey, was completely blindsided by the news of Zingano's coaching replacement.
When bitter rival Miesha Tate came waltzing through the door on the first day of filming Season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter, Rousey was visibly shocked. Her negative reaction delighted the spiteful Tate and fueled the well-documented hate that burns between the two fighters.
After cooling off, Rousey commented to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports that "people will look back at [Rousey vs. Tate] as one of the monumental rivalries and...as one of those things that really cemented women's MMA."
While this tenuous dynamic is sensational for TUF ratings, the fight itself is destined to be as one-sided a beatdown as their first encounter.
That fight was a total mismatch in which Rousey dominated Tate in every way. In fact, "Rowdy" nearly broke Tate's arm en route to capturing the Strikeforce women's bantamweight strap.
Tate was defenseless against Rousey, who used her distinct size advantage to overpower the smaller opponent and control the pace of the fight.
Until running into "Rowdy," Tate, a high-level wrestler, had no problem stuffing her opponents' takedowns with relative ease.
However, according to Fightmetric, Rousey completed all three of her takedowns and was able to pass the guard seemingly at will. She also landed 43 total strikes, most of which came on the ground.
Following the devastating loss to Rousey, Tate fittingly changed her nickname from "Takedown" to "Cupcake." She has lived up to that new moniker with uninspiring performances against Zingano and Julie Kedzie. Tate's skill sets have remained largely the same or fallen off since relinquishing the belt.
In her fight against Kedzie, Fightmetric lists Tate's total strikes landed as a paltry 26, while her opponent connected over three times more frequently (85).
Had it not been for a miraculous late-round submission of Kedzie, Tate would have almost certainly dropped a unanimous-decision. This victory kept her in title contention and put her on a collision course with the undefeated Zingano.
The winner would have the opportunity to not only coach opposite Rousey on the next season of TUF, but also to compete for the belt.
Again, Tate was outclassed by the bigger, stronger Zingano, who landed 107 total strikes (Fightmetric) before putting "Cupcake" out of her misery at 2:55 of the third round.
Tate struggled to find a rhythm in the stand-up department. She only hit the mark 54 times and completed less than 50 percent of her takedowns, as cited by Fightmetric.
Based on the stats, even if the fight went to the cards, Tate very likely would have been on the wrong side of a split decision.
While Tate has been middling at best, Rousey has grown by leaps and bounds and become a more complete mixed martial artist. She has risen to the occasion in her last two title defenses, finishing both opponents in spectacular fashion via her now-signature armbar.
Though Tate's recent resume has been less than sparkling, she backed her way into an incredible opportunity due to Zingano's misfortune.
It also doesn't hurt that she and Rousey have a venomous relationship. In an interview with Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, UFC President Dana White underlined the choice of Tate in saying, "[Miesha] and Ronda already had a great fight and they have a history together. They don't like each other."
This decision speaks to the overwhelming importance of popularity to a fighter's career. Whether you like Tate or not, she is a galvanizing force among fight fans, who will tune in to watch her. From the UFC's perspective, that represents far more dollars than Zingano brought to the table.
Like Chael Sonnen, Tate seems to get opportunities based upon her marketability, and not for her performance inside the cage.
Unfortunately, this matchup will be another unnecessary fight forced down MMA fans' throats a la Jon Jones vs. Sonnen, or most recently, Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva.
The bottom line is that UFC is about selling tickets, not necessarily setting up epic battles.
As was true with those fights, Rousey vs. Tate 2 is over before it has begun. "Rowdy" will finish "Cupcake" in the first, leaving the cage not only with the belt, but another arm for her collection.
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