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Miesha Tate's win over Marloes Coenen doesn't give much hope to women's MMA

Photo by Josh Hedges/Forza LLC/Forza LLC via Getty Images
Photo by Josh Hedges/Forza LLC/Forza LLC via Getty Images

I'm a bit confused by the reaction to last nights (July 30) women's bantamweight title fight between Marloes Coenen and Miesha Tate.

I've heard jubilant cries of glee from fight fans both educated and not so enlightened. I've also seen a number of experts seemingly jumping for joy at both the result of the fight and the nature of the finish.

I don't get it ... at all.

The meat first: Tate defeated Coenen last night with a slick arm triangle submission in the fourth round, the very first time in the latter's career she had ever been forced to tap out.

Tate's technique was flawless, her swiftness impeccable and her timing perfect. She executed a masterful game plan and left Hoffman Estates, Illinois with an extra 12 or so pounds of championship gold.

That's the good stuff. It's how they got there where it gets ugly. Very, very ugly.

I'm not sure why this is the case but there seems to be a deep divide between those that enjoy women's MMA and those that do not. It's an exercise in extremes, as the proponents generally speak far too highly of it while the naysayers are typically far too negative.

There is a happy medium, folks.

However, perception is reality and Coenen vs. Tate was supposed to represent the last major chance the women had to convince those in power that they're worth their salt.

Of course it's not fair that they have to justify the very fact that they are earning a paycheck but last I checked, business is ruthless, at least for those that thrive in it.

And in the MMA business, that would be UFC President Dana White.

In the lead-up to this bout, Tate was very clear in her intention of what she wanted to do. She didn't just want to defeat Coenen, one of the top female fighters in the world today. She didn't just want to win the bantamweight championship. She wanted to convince White that his distaste for women's MMA is rooted in ignorance and if he just gave them the chance, they would prove how financial viable they can be.

Sorry to say it but if White was watching last night, that's the last thing he will think.

There is a certain brand of fighter and fighting style that White has always and will always hitch his promotional wagon to, and for good reason. He enjoys sloppy slugfests contested on the feet. This is no surprise considering his extensive boxing background.

But the bigger reason he enjoys such fights, and rewards those who deliver them accordingly, is because that's what fans want to see. You can enjoy smooth technique all you want but no one is paying for a pay-per-view because a promoter is saying,"Hey, trust me, you want to see this fight. These two have great technique and they will execute smart game plans."


What Miesha Tate did last night was the women's equivalent of what Jon Fitch does in the UFC. She went out and brilliantly imposed her will, keeping the pressure on at all times and never letting up with her relentless takedowns and top control.

Yes, she finished the fight with an incredibly slick submission. I'm certainly not taking anything away from her there and yes, Fitch hasn't finished a fight in god knows how long.

But the fact remains, this fight was absolutely dreadful up until that point. The live crowd seemed to have exploded when Coenen tapped out but that was all the noise they made throughout the previous three and a half rounds.

The truth of the matter is that this fight was not aesthetically pleasing and I fully anticipate that ratings dropped off considerably during the bout. It reminded me of the Jake Shields vs. Jason Miller fight that led into Fedor vs. Brett Rogers back in Nov. 2009.

The two middleweights engaged in a ground war that, to the trained eye, was a thrilling affair. But it was abysmal to most fans and they tuned out before ever making it to the big main event fight.

If that turns out to be the case here, that will be all the ammunition White needs to bring down the hammer on women's MMA at the soonest possible date. He's got a laundry list of other reasons to do so but this one will do.

It's a shame that her fighting style is so far from aesthetically pleasing because Tate is a relentless self-promoter and a rather perfect face for women's MMA, at least in Gina Carano's absence.

Her victory last night, however, will likely be short lived. The booking decisions being made by Strikeforce, such as cutting its heavyweight champion, leaving the welterweight title vacant, letting the contract of its light heavyweight champion run out and so on and so forth, lead on to believe the promotion is headed for a merger with UFC just as soon as things are cleared up with Showtime and that contract is fulfilled.

And then it's bye-bye women's MMA, at least under the Zuffa banner.

As great as Tate performed last night and as technically sound as the fight was on the whole, I doubt very much that anyone is going to miss it.

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