Driven by her love for the sport and eagerness to be respected, Miesha Tate is going to be a very dangerous fighter at UFC 168.
Not only because nemesis Ronda Rousey will be standing across the cage from her, but more so because a UFC championship would solidify a career drenched in blood, sweet and tears.
As one of the best women fighters in the world, Tate deserves to be recognized on the grand stage. But in the shadow of Rousey, she's somehow fallen behind the pack.
Here are three keys to victory for "Cupcake" as she aims to discover her own glowing spotlight this weekend:
Get off early:
As one of the toughest strikers in the division, Tate usually scripts her own destiny by suffocating opponents with relentless strikes and ill-willed pressure.
She has done it in the past and will look to do it again Saturday night opposite Rousey. Luckily for the challenger, the champion doesn't really like to get hit. Just look at how uncomfortable Rousey looked on her feet in their first meeting after Tate landed just a few good shots.
In other words, getting to Rousey early is going to be Tate's best weapon. She needs to dominate the center of the cage, welcome Rousey with open arms and get ready to sling leather.
But she'll have to keep her distance and find her range in the process.
Remain on her feet:
Not only to feed into her own strong suit but to avoid Rousey's, Tate needs to to stay on her feet.
Now while that's easier said than done, especially against a world-class Judo expert like "Rowdy," the challenger is athletic enough and strong enough to do it. She just has to stay grounded and not get overzealous when she launches vicious punches.
If Tate can remain on her feet, she'll be able to essentially take 75 percent of Rousey's game away from her. That's like chopping three legs off of a chair and watching it crash to the ground.
Drag Rousey into deep water:
While she's been as dominate as any fighter in the world over the past few years, Rousey has never seen the second round, let alone the third, fourth or fifth.
Tate, on the other hand, has encountered countless wars throughout her 17-fight career.
In order for her to gain the upper hand, utilize her experience and try to expose Rousey's conditioning in the later rounds, Tate has to pace herself, stay patient and make sure she stays away from that armbar.
If she can remain afloat for longer than two rounds, the champion could fade.
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