UFC 168 Results: Did Abandoning the Game Plan Cost Miesha Tate a Title?

Matthew RyderFeatured ColumnistDecember 29, 2013

Dec 28, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA;    Ronda Rousey (red gloves) and Miesha Tate (blue gloves) fight during their UFC women's bantamweight championship bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

She said it herself.

Right there, in the cage with Joe Rogan questioning her on it, she said it herself.

Miesha Tate abandoned her game plan and fought Ronda Rousey on her terms.

Crazily enough, frustratingly for her and her fans, she actually did quite well on those terms, too. Rousey struggled to hold her down and did little physical damage on the ground aside from threatening with some submissions. Sure, the trips and throws came easily enough, but that's to be expected from a judo Olympian being gifted the chance to execute her favorite moves at her leisure.

The fact is that Tate actually held up. She took everything Rousey could (literally) throw at her and she held up.

Then, when the fight was where she wanted it to be herselfat a distance, out of clinch range and where haymakers could be winged with vicious enthusiasmshe got some momentum.

The exchanges were frenzied and chaotic, with both women seemingly taking two to give one, but Tate was right in the muck and fighting without a backward step. There's no question that she excels in a blood-and-guts brawl as well as any woman in the sport, which is truly saying something considering the level of grit the ladies bring when they hit the cage.

Rousey, for all her athleticism and accomplishments, can't match her there. She did a great job slogging in that aforementioned muck at UFC 168, but it's hard to say she enjoyed it. The bloodstained smiles of Tate were rarely matched by Rousey, abandoned for the attitude of a woman doing her job against a woman enjoying doing her job.

It's impossible to say for sure that Tate would have snatched Rousey's belt had she stayed out of those grappling exchanges and let her fists do the talking. She was a true moth to a flame in that sense, repeatedly believing that her wrestling would be enough to handle the blinding light of her opponent's judo. Only because of her determination and vastly improved submission defense was she given the chance to make that same mistake again and again.

But it is safe to say that the abandonment of her game plan did nothing to help her. After all, she ended up succumbing to an armbar when her escapability carriage turned into a pumpkin in the third round. If she had never been there in the first place, instead focused on standing up and making it ugly, she would never have been there to be arm-barred.

None of this is to suggest that Tate deserves anything less than the utmost credit and respect. She pushed Rousey to places no one ever has, survived a host of nasty spots and exacted some toll of physical revenge for a TUF season full of belligerent verbosity and middle fingers.

Still you can't help but think that if she'd just stuck with what was working best, she might have taken the greatest revenge of all in the form of a big gold belt.

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