In their last meeting, in Strikeforce, it was Tate who was champion at the time. Rousey took care of business promptly and violently. Tate ended up with a dislocated elbow and lost her championship belt. Nearly two years later we will see how much has changed.
Tate is the biggest underdog on the card. Here are three questions we have leading into the heated rematch with Rousey.
Was It Smart to Antagonize the Champion?
Rousey hates Tate. That much is certain. And during The Ultimate Fighter, we got to see Tate continually dig at Rousey with small barbs. On several occasions, Rousey informed Tate that she planned to do physical harm to her, and that is playing it down to a G-rated level.
Was that a bright idea? Maybe.
When fighters get upset, one of two things normally happen. They get more intensely focused, or they make critical errors.
Tate has been open that in the first fight she went right after Rousey unintelligently because she wanted to beat her up. It got her tossed to the canvas and submitted rather quickly. Tate learned from her mistake, and now she is trying to reverse that onto Rousey.
Rousey wants nothing more than to physically harm Tate. We'll find out if Tate's jabs pay off in vital mistakes from Rousey, or if it causes Tate to be sidelined with injuries due to Rousey's armbar.
Can She Keep the Fight Standing?
Most fans wonder if she can defend the armbar. It is a fair question but slightly misguided.
Rousey is an elite-level grappler. If she gets in a position to finish with an armbar, there is not much Tate can do to stop it. It's a different level of grappling. The question is: Can she avoid that position in the first place?
When levels are equal, wrestlers typically have a very good base to avoid being tossed or to wind up in top position when a throw fails. However, Tate isn't on the same level as Rousey. She was a high school wrestling champion, and Rousey is an Olympian.
That doesn't mean Tate could not improve to stop what may be coming. She is a smart fighter who has trained hard.
It will be very beneficial to the challenger if she can defend as Rousey closes the distance and tries to put Tate on the mat. We will see if nearly two years of preparation has changed anything.
Does She Have the Striking Advantage?
There is little question as to who has the advantage on the ground, but who has the advantage standing?
The immediate thought for most is that Tate does. She has more experience with striking and has shown it more often in the cage. However, it's not that simple.
Tate's striking has never been a technical marvel. In fact, often enough she pushes forward with a barrage of punches to get in tight to her opponents. And that is something she won't want to do against the champion.
Tate needs to stay on the outside to find success.
There is also the question of just how good Rousey's striking is. Coaches and training partners of the champion have lauded her striking improvement, and there is ample video of her focusing on her footwork and head movement as she trains.
Rousey has been focusing on refining her striking to a more technical level, but we have not seen it in action in the cage. There is a distinct possibility that Rousey is the better technical striker.
If that is the case, Tate is in a lot of trouble on Saturday.
Does Tate even have the striking advantage? That is a remarkably big question that we still don't know heading into Saturday. For her sake, Tate better hope that Rousey's striking improvement is still behind the eight ball.
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