UFC 168 went down Saturday night from Las Vegas. In the co-main event, Ronda Rousey, the undefeated and unquestioned best female MMA fighter in the world, defended her UFC women's bantamweight title against Miesha Tate, her longtime rival and a former champion in her own right.
The fight game doesn't often lend itself to things like moral victories. Wins and losses are typically pretty easy to tabulate. But when you have an undefeated, 26-year-old champion who was won all six of her professional MMA fights by armbar submission in the first round, well, you grade on a bit of a curve.
So after the curve, yes, the fact that Tate took Rousey into the third round—where she ultimately succumbed to that insidious Rousey armbar—does mean an unusual level of success. That perception was buttressed by the fact that Tate and Rousey each received $75,000 in extra bonuses for putting on the Fight of the Night, according to UFC brass.
Rousey moves to 7-0 with the win, while Tate drops to 13-5. Tate has now lost three of her last four, though two of those came against Rousey and all came versus top competition in the sport.
So where does each fighter go from here?
As for the champ, that's an easy one. During the post-fight news conference, UFC president Dana White announced that Rousey would be facing a fellow former Olympian, Sara McMann, at UFC 170 on February 22. Rousey's Olympic bronze medal came in judo, while McMann, who is also a perfect 7-0 as a pro MMA fighter, took a silver medal as a freestyle wrestler. Needless to say, there could be some interesting ground exchanges in that one.
Tate's path, meanwhile, is a little murkier.
After coaching opposite Rousey on The Ultimate Fighter, Tate's visibility and popularity have skyrocketed. If you'll pardon the clinical phrasing, Tate is certainly a marketable commodity for the UFC or any other promotion, despite her recent string of losses in the cage. The real question is whether or when Tate wants to continue.
Tate is still only 27 years old and should have plenty of great fights ahead of her. If she remains with the UFC, an interesting foil could be Sarah Kaufman. The two have fought before, with Kaufman defeating Tate by decision back in 2009. Liz Carmouche and TUF alum Jessica Rakoczy could also be worthwhile opponents.
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