Liz Carmouche vs. Miesha Tate was a very important fight. Carmouche and Tate represent two of the most marketable and best-known female fighters in the UFC...and also the two most in need of a win. Both were coming off losses (Tate was coming off two, in fact) and quite possibly had their jobs on the line.
That translated to their in-cage performances. Tate looked downright scared in the early goings of the fight while Carmouche showed a less-than-impressive grinding attack. It wasn't until the third round that the "YOLO" Miesha Tate that won the Strikeforce belt showed up in the cage, dominating Carmouche with scary submissions.
That strong third allowed Tate to steal a unanimous 29-28 decision. So what did we learn?
Miesha Tate has Unlearned How to Fight
At her best, Miesha Tate is a female Diego Sanchez. She has a wrestling base that shows up when it needs to, but most of the time she is Rambo-ing on whoever happens to be against her at the time. It's not the most technically impressive, and it likely won't ever net her a UFC belt, but it can get her wins more often than not.
That gunslinging Miesha Tate was nowhere to be found for the first ten minutes of this fight. Instead, we got a crappy, methodical grinder who didn't actually seem to know how to grapple. It got her into an early hole that many allege was insurmountable entering the third.
She remembered how to scrap by the third round, but she was very lucky to have not wound up dropping a 29-28 decision against a fighter that, theoretically, was completely overmatched against her. She has the tools to remain competitive near the top of the division, but she needs to find them if she wants to stay in the top five.
Liz Carmouche Isn't a Top Female Fighter
Sarah Kaufman, Ronda Rousey, Alexis Davis, Marloes Coenen and Miesha Tate, arguably, are the top five fighters of the women's 135-pound division. Liz Carmouche has lost to all of them. What's worse is that the list of fighters Carmouche has beaten is not nearly as star-studded.
That's not a good thing for somebody who was hoping to make a title run.
To be fair, she put forward a good effort that many thought should have won her the fight. The thing is, her almost edging out the choker version of Miesha Tate wouldn't make her a top female fighter either way.
Liz Carmouche is Still UFC-Caliber
I don't want to be too gloomy when it comes to Liz Carmouche's skill level. She remains one of the most physically powerful ladies in the UFC, and her demolition of Jessica Andrade at UFC on Fox 8 attests to that.
Carmouche, right now, fits comfortably into a gatekeeper role in the women's division. That's not a bad place to be, frankly, even if "gatekeeper" is a label that few fighters are happy to take on.
Carmouche is ranked as the No. 7 female in the division and, honestly, there are only one or two ladies underneath her that I would pick to beat her.
Florida Judges are Terrible
Before the decisions were read, I figured that this was a sure-fire split decision. Hell, it very easily could have been a draw, given how Round 3 could've easily been scored 10-8 Tate. A unanimous 29-28 in either direction, though? That's not something I can get behind.
It was (probably) the latest example of spotty judging in a night that saw a lot of it early on. While Florida isn't Wyoming-caliber, they made Nevada seem great.