After spending much of her UFC career as the No. 2 fighter in the women's bantamweight division, Miesha Tate can finally lay claim to being the champion. The 29-year-old defeated Holly Holm via fifth-round submission in the co-main event at UFC 196 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
ESPN Stats & Info shared the official result and an interesting bit of trivia:
The bout got off to an inauspicious start with both fighters looking to gauge distance and get a feel for each other. However, Holm landed a few combinations, which made her the better option for the judges in the first round.
Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times summed up the lackluster round:
The action heated up early in Round 2 as the challenger scored a takedown. Tate advanced to side control and used the advantageous position to work at Holm's face with elbows and punches.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was the first time someone had taken down Holm in her UFC career:
Tate put Holm's ground defense to the test, eventually taking the champion's back and threatening a rear-naked choke. Despite spending nearly the entire round on the defensive, Holm survived to see the third round.
The UFC shared a replay of the near-submission:
The third round looked more like the first, as Holm became more calculated in her attacks, and Tate's takedown attempts were unfruitful. It was another uneventful round that proved difficult for the judges to score.
Holm's improved takedown defense came in handy again in Round 4 as she rebuffed all of Tate's attempts to get the fight to the mat. The former boxing champion also found a nice rhythm on her feet and began landing with regularity.
Tate's persistence paid off, though, as she secured a takedown in the fifth and final round that spelled doom for Holm. As the champion tried to scramble to her feet, Tate locked onto a standing rear-naked choke that eventually forced an end to the fight and made her the champion.
Up to this point, Tate's UFC career had been defined by almost being the best fighter in her division. After going 6-2 in Strikeforce, including a title loss to Ronda Rousey, Tate opened her UFC career with two losses to Cat Zingano and Rousey.
Since her second loss to Rousey, Tate has been on a tear. After her fifth win in a row, she's the third champion in the history of the division.
Of course, she has some unfinished business with Rousey. But for now, Tate is satisfied with becoming the champion—an accomplishment she said means more to her than a win over her rival, per Martin Domin of the Daily Mail:
I would like to fight her again if she stays around. If she doesn't, I didn't get in this sport also thinking, "I want to create an arch nemesis and beat that person".
No, it's like I want to become the best in the world. So this is the moment that matters to me right now. Being a champion is what matters to me. That's why I got into this sport for no other reason.
Saturday's result set up an intriguing title picture for the UFC. On one hand, Rousey would like to regain the belt. On the other, it's clear she still wants to avenge her loss to Holm.
She was rooting for Holm to defend her belt for that reason.
"I don't want anyone else to take the honor of beating her besides myself," Rousey told TMZ (via Fox Sports' Andre Vergara).
Tate said she would love to see a Holm-Rousey rematch, too, as long as it's not for the belt, per Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com:
But the highly anticipated sequel between Holm and Rousey would have less at stake should it take place. Tate's the champion, and a third fight between Tate and her former Strikeforce rival might seem more appealing to the UFC brass, although fans have seen it twice already.
Regardless of what direction the organization decides to go, UFC 196 will mark the high point in Tate's career. Where she goes from here will decide whether she becomes a one-hit wonder or finally gets the best of her rival.