This Saturday night (April 19, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women's bantamweights Miesha Tate and Liz Carmouche will face off in the co-main event of UFC on FOX 11, airing live at 8 p.m. EST from Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
The bout is a pivotal one, as both former title challengers are coming in off a loss. Tate lost to champion Ronda Rousey at UFC 168, the second time she's tapped out to a "Rowdy" armbar.
"Cupcake" received her coaching spot on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18 after Cat Zingano, who won the stint by defeating Tate in April 2013, went down with a serious knee injury.
Tate may be one of the most well known names in mixed martial arts (MMA) right now, but she only has one win since July 2011.
She'll face an opponent in a similar position. No. 7-ranked Carmouche dropped a decision to current title contender Alexis Davis at UFC Fight Night 31: "Fight for Troops 3" in November 2013, marking her second loss in three fights. The former Marine has her hands full with the No. 3-ranked Tate.
Both fighters have their backs against the wall heading into Orlando, as a loss will be absolutely devastating to each woman's relevancy. Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Tate vs. Carmouche:
Record: 13-5 overall, 0-2 UFC
Key Wins: Marloes Coenen (Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson), Julie Kedzie (Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman)
Key Losses: Ronda Rousey (UC 168), Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey), Cat Zingano (TUF 17 Finale)
Keys to Victory: Despite her results, Tate's striking has actually looked effective in her last two fights. She tagged Rousey with some good shots before switching to ill-advised takedown attempts, and she was beating Cat Zingano before "Alpha" turned the tables with a third round barrage.
Tate has fought the elite fighters in her division and should benefit from a slight step down in competition against Carmouche. "Girlrilla" is a dangerous striker, but Tate should be able to hang with her on the feet. Although "Cupcake" is still evolving as a martial artist, her bread and butter will always be her mat game.
Her wrestling background should enable her to drag Carmouche to the canvas. When she does, a world of opportunities to finish the fight will open up. Tate owns six wins by submission and will be vehemently looking for a seventh come Saturday night.
Carmouche has tapped out in two of her four total losses, so that ‘s a very good sign for "Cupcake."
On the other hand, Tate has been knocked out in two of her five losses. She'll need to fight smart on the feet to avoid Carmouche's fight-ending power. If she can, a huge bounce back win will be within reach.
Record: 9-4 overall, 1-2 UFC
Key Wins: Jessica Andrade (UFC on FOX 8), Jan Finney (Strikeforce Challenger: Wilcox vs. Ribeiro)
Key Losses: Ronda Rousey (UFC 157), Sarah Kaufman (Strikeforce Challengers: Bowling vs. Voelker III), Marloes Coenen (Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson)
Keys to Victory: After finishing two Invicta bouts to earn a UFC title shot, Carmouche has been largely inconsistent in the Octagon.
The road isn't getting any easier, as she'll undoubtedly be facing an angry Tate who is beyond motivated to get back into the win column. Carmouche deserves respect for her level of competition, but she's beaten mainly subpar opposition. Losing three out of four will put her miles away from title contention in the growing UFC women's landscape.
To avoid that, Carmouche needs to stay aggressive. Davis outclassed her in her last bout, so she has to prevent Tate from picking her apart with a technical striking game.
Carmouche's advantage is her power. Using a high volume of significant strikes will not score only her points, but also serve to disrupt Tate's strategy and takedowns. "Girlrilla" has finished every one of her MMA wins except one, proving she has the striking to finish fights in a flash.
If she wants to stay upright long enough to do so, Carmouche's takedown defense will have to be at an all-time high. Carmouche is decent on the mat, but she wants to avoid any prolonged ground exchanges with Tate. "Girlrilla" only has two submissions and is a proven finisher on the feet.
As a slight underdog, Carmouche her back against the wall a bit after her first year in UFC didn't go as planned. Carmouche will have to fight the best fight of her life in to get back on track at UFC on FOX 11.
Bottom Line from Orlando: The bottom line for this fight is that it's time to sink or swim for both fighters. The UFC women's bantamweight division is expanding by leaps and bounds thanks to the massive influx of popularity spearheaded by Rousey. Despite Tate and Carmouche's status as ambassadors for their sport, they simply need a win.
That makes this potentially exciting co-main event a crucial one. For all their name recognition, Tate and Carmouche have failed to live up to their hype for the most part, so whoever wins in Orlando will go a long way towards reestablishing their reputation.
The loser will fall into UFC purgatory, probably destined to gatekeeper status and almost guaranteed to never fight for the title again. That fate could befall Carmouche much easier because Tate is a marketable media personality even with poor results in the Octagon.
Tate and Carmouche are talented and hard-working women's bantamweights; that much is certain But the only thing that truly matters in MMA is winning, and these two have to do just that if they want to hold onto their lofty spots in the rankings.
With more ways to win, the deck is stacked in Tate's favor, but you can never count out a slugger like Carmouche.
Miesha Tate will meet Liz Carmouche in a battle of popular but sliding women's bantamweights. Which one will regain their fire with a victory under the bright lights?