In case you haven't heard, women are now a part of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). And their 135-pound division started with a bang at UFC 157 in Feb. 2013 when Bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey defended her title for the first time against Liz Carmouche.
The second ever UFC women's fight is set for tonight (Sat., April 13, 2013) when Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano meet at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 Finale, which takes place from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The winner will earn the opportunity to challenge Rousey for her title, as well as coach opposite "Rowdy" on the next season of TUF.
Tate, a former Strikeforce champion and standout before the promotion folded earlier this year, has carved a reputation as a super-aggressive, submission-based fighter. This blend of skills is what propelled her to become champion, defeating Marloes Coenen by arm triangle in July 2011.
Her game, for the most part, is all offense all the time. She sets a blistering pace from the beginning of fights and keeps it up throughout each round after. Whether that means winging punches at her opponent or wrestling them to the ground and relentlessly attacking with submission attempts, Tate will always test her opponent's ability to take pressure and fight on defense.
Of course, this approach isn't always too difficult to figure out, and for the most part, that's exactly what Julie Kedzie did when she met "Cupcake" last August. Despite finding herself on the end of many of Tate's strikes, Kedzie punished her recklessness with powerful counter strikes, leading her to what would be a likely decision victory in a hotly contested bout.
Tate showed impressive heart and skill in the face of adversity, however, catching an armbar late into the third round to take the win in what many mixed martial arts (MMA) fans considered a serious contender for 2012's "Fight of the Year."
Zingano, while relatively unknown, is a slight favorite going into the bout with Tate. Perhaps unwarranted, she is still clearly a tough opponent for Tate and certainly capable of pulling off the win.
Her approach is similar to Tate's, utilizing honed ground skills and raw stand up to constantly keep opponents on defense. Zingano's attack utilizes more of a brute strength approach, as she lives up to her nickname of "Alpha" with powerful, vicious attacks.
Zingano is a fighter who excels on the mat, similarly to Tate, and she can attack from any position. Her submission game is well equipped, but she also possesses the ability to drop heavy ground strikes, making her a dangerous threat, especially from top position.
This fight will play out in all phases of MMA. Tate and Zingano are not the epitome of striking prowess, but they are both dangerous and even violent in their attacks, meaning they can produce some classic, swing-for-the-fences striking exchanges.
Additionally, their grappling games are complex and dangerous, with Tate holding a size and submission advantage, while Zingano is likely the more dangerous from top position because of her damaging ground-and-pound. Their skills will likely produce interesting exchanges on the ground, with scrambles and positioning holding great importance throughout the fight.
Ultimately, this fight will be contested between two of the women's bantamweight division's hungriest fighters. Both of them would benefit hugely with a win, and with their go-for-broke, all-out methods of attack, they will probably produce a fireworks display when they meet this Saturday.
Both are relentless attackers from all angles, and because of that, the pair have the most potential to produce TUF 17 Finale's "Fight of the Night."