Last night (Sat., April 19, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women's bantamweights Miesha Tate and Liz Carmouche fought for high stakes in the co-main event of UFC on FOX 11 from Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
Despite the fact that each had challenged UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey for the title last year, Tate and Carmouche were in dire need of a win after recent lackluster performances.
"Cupcake" failed to avenge a previous loss to Rousey when "Rowdy" submitted her after a stint on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18. Despite her status as one of the more popular female fighters in mixed martial arts (MMA) today, Tate had only notched one win since July 2011.
After fighting the absolute best female fighters in the world during that span, she received a step down in competition in the No. 7-ranked Carmouche. "Girlrilla" lost her last bout as well, a unanimous decision to current title challenger Alexis Davis at UFC Fight Night 31: "Fight for Troops 3" back in November 2013.
When the dust had settled on last night's co-main event, Tate had got back into the win column with a come-from-behind victory in Florida. Let's break down how she got back on track.
Tate came out throwing some kicks and a Superman punch. "Cupcake" pressed the action with a few hooks, and Carmouche looked to clinch against the cage, wrapping up Tate and slamming her to the mat. Carmouche couldn't do much with the position, however, eating some bottom elbows.
The fight got back up and Carmouche grabbed Tate's back only to switch it up to another double leg takedown. The first round wore down with Carmouche scoring a nice judo throw off of a Tate kimura attempt.
The second round saw Tate throw a combination, stopping a Carmouche takedown attempt. The action went to the clinch once again, this time with Tate controlling position. Tate landed some good punches and a front kick, but was taken down two more times in short fashion. Tate tried to cage walk and go for a guillotine, but Carmouche got out to grab Tate's back as the bell sounded.
The third round kicked off with Tate aggressive. She landed a hard shot and tripped Carmouche to the mat, doing it again after "Girlrilla" got back up. Tate went to work in side control, going for an arm triangle that couldn't quite materialize. "Cupcake" got Carmouche's back to go for a rear-naked choke, locking it in tight in the final minute. Carmouche defended well, and Tate ended the back-and-forth bout by unleashing some punches from top position.
It was a close fight that ultimately ended with Tate taking home a unanimous decision victory after a dominant third round. She showed a ton of heart to come back and win from behind in the final round. After losing three out of her past four fights, Tate got a victory that saved her relevancy in the rapidly expanding UFC women's landscape.
She'll be back to fighting another top-level opponent, so a bout with former title challenger Sara McMann would makes sense for the highly ranked Tate. If that doesn't work out, fighting Sarah Kaufman, who beat Leslie Smith at The Ultimate Fighter: "Nations" Finale earlier this week, would be another great pairing.
The loss is a brutal one for Carmouche, who has now dropped three out of four bouts in UFC. As the first-ever UFC women's bantamweight title challenger, she'll probably receive at least one more chance to win, but her time is running out.
She needs to win and win now. A bout against someone towards the bottom of the Top 15 such as Jessica Rakoczy would be a good prospect for Carmouche's next test.
Miesha Tate was nearly sent to her fourth loss in five fights, but she showed a warrior spirit in picking up a win in the last round. Can "Cupcake" somehow claw her way back into title contention?