The most anticipated female mixed martial arts (MMA) fight in years, perhaps ever took place last night (March 3, 2012) as Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Miesha Tate looked to defend her title against judo Olympian Ronda Rousey in the main event of Strikeforce: "Tate vs. Rousey" in Columbus, Ohio.
Tate repeatedly proclaimed that she didn't feel Rousey had earned the shot, that others were more deserving of being her first title defense, that Rousey was only there because of her looks and her mouth.
But look who's laughing now?
In one of the more cringe-worthy finishes of 2012, Rousey took Tate's arm home with her to claim the championship belt as her own.
So how did "Rowdy" Ronda pull it off? (literally) And what's next for both talented ladies?
Follow me after the jump for our Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate Strikeforce: "Tate vs. Rousey" post-fight review and analysis:
Perhaps fueled by all the pre-fight trash talk, Tate came out swinging wildly, charging forward and throwing a flurry of lunging hooks. One cracked Rousey on the jaw, but the majority of them missed and they allowed Rousey to clinch and easily reverse a takedown attempt into a takedown where she immediately went to work with her elite judo ground skills.
After slickly passing to side control, the Olympic bronze medalist latched onto Tate's arm and attempted to score her fifth straight first round armbar finish. It looked painful, but Tate turned into Rousey, forcing the challenger to transition to an omaplata which allowed Tate to get back to her feet.
The champion, proving that she was not going to be overwhelmed early, clinched with Rousey and proceeded to drag her to the canvas, locking in both hooks and taking her back on the way down.
Rousey remained calm despite the perilous situation, not panicking despite the threat of a rear naked choke and she escaped out the back door to return to her feet where she was able to take command in the clinch and score a trip takedown.
Tate again showcased her own grappling ability by working her way back to her feet, but she once again got overzealous with her striking, overcommitting on some big hooks which took her off balance and Rousey capitalized with a beautiful hip toss which would eventually set up the finish to the fight.
This time, Rousey would pass to mount and posture up, dropping nice short strikes, all targeting the left side of Tate's head. This was brilliant because the second Tate brought up her left hand to defend her head, Rousey snuck her own arm underneath and then once again transitioned to an armbar.
Her knees weren't cinched together perfectly this time, but Rousey made up for it by using her knee to keep Tate's head in place and then torquing violently on Tate's arm, which led to one of the more gruesome-looking arm configurations we've ever seen and also forced a tap from the champion.
It was competitive, it was action-packed and it lived up to all the pre-fight hype and billing.
For Miesha Tate, first thing's first, she's going to need some time to heal. She played "tough-girl" for the cameras in her post-fight interview but she had that thousand yard stare and she likely suffered some pretty severe damage to her elbow at least. She held her own with Rousey, but her biggest mistake was letting Rousey get into her head which allowed her emotions to take over. In the stand-up, Tate was way too aggressive and this led to easy throws and trips by Rousey. She'll have to make sure to not let that happen the next time around.
If her timetable for a return is not too severe, I'd love to see her step in against Alexis Davis, who put on an incredible performance in a losing effort to Sarah Kaufmann earlier in the evening. Other possibilities include former title challenger Liz Carmouche or top Brazilian prospect Amanda Nunes.
For Ronda Rousey, this was an incredible performance. Other than a shaky minute where she had her back taken, she was nearly flawless in her execution of guard passing, takedowns and submission attempts. She is an absolute technician in the cage and she's got the athletic gifts to back it up. Rousey has the look, the talent and the charisma to be a superstar in women's MMA for quite some time.
She will almost certainly be battling Sarah Kaufman next in her first title defense, as soon as Kaufman's superficial injuries heal and they want to set up a big championship fight. This likely won't have quite the buzz of Tate vs. Rousey, but now that Rousey is likely going to be a huge star in the division, there will be plenty of interest among casual MMA fans for all of her fights. If she can defeat Kaufman next, there's no telling how high Rousey's stardom in women's MMA can reach.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you as impressed by Rousey's performance as most everyone else seems to be? Can she be the savior of women's MMA and help bring about a new era of female fighters?