Top-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight contenders Miesha Tate and Jessica Eye clashed last night (July 25, 2015) at UFC on FOX 16 inside United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
While they were largely tough fights, Tate managed to rack up three straight wins after her second loss to division champion Ronda Rousey. By defeating Eye, Tate would earn another Top 10 victory and likely assure herself another shot at the crown.
Eye's UFC record may not be the best on paper, but her wild brawl with Sarah Kaufman and ear-shredding beat down of Leslie Smith largely speak for themselves. The boxer was looking for her own title shot last night, in addition to earning the biggest win of her career.
Eye began the bout with some quick jabs and evaded Tate's power punches. When Tate switched it up and began attacking with kicks, Eye countered with nasty right hands and combinations. Before long, Tate started to look hesitant, as Eye controlled range, stuffed takedowns, and generally picked her apart.
Then, Tate connected with a solid jab. Eye backed away a bit, and Tate ran her into a brutal overhand that dropped her opponent badly. For the remaining minute of the round, Tate land some nice ground strikes and controlled top position while Eye simply survived the round.
Despite her opponent's strong start, Tate's near finished earned her the opening round.
Tate began the next round with another wide overhand, which just barely missed her opponent's open chin. While Eye was still the more technical fighter on her feet, Tate had plenty of confidence in her power punches and continued to push forward.
A couple minutes into the round, it paid off.
Once again, Tate connected with a massive overhand and follow up punches that sent her opponent stumbling to the mat. On top, Tate scored with nasty elbows to the body and threatened with a guillotine choke, which she nearly finished towards the end of the round.
Eye needed something big in the third.
The third round started fairly slowly, as Eye was a bit cautious. Plus, Tate was certainly confident in her lead. While both women scored, Eye continued to hold her edge in volume. When a third overhand failed to emerge, Tate switched it up and scored a takedown directly into back mount.
While working with heel kicks and hunting for the choke, the ref inexplicably stood up the fight. Despite the absurdity, Tate finished the fight by pushing forward aggressively, although she didn't land anything significant.
Regardless, Tate clearly earned the decision win.
This fight -- and Tate's current win streak as a whole -- have really demonstrated Tate's improvement. While Eye was still the superior technical puncher, Tate's improved technique and power on her feet really won her the fight. That's a far cry from when "Cupcake" relied solely on her wrestling to win fights.
In addition, Tate is in way better shape than she once was. It's physically obvious, as Tate is more muscular now, and her performance was improved as well. She kept a solid pace going across all three rounds without any apparent issues, which makes her a much more dangerous fighter.
After all, it was her conditioning that lost her the bout with Cat Zingano.
Next up for Tate should be Rousey. Tate may have a pair of losses to the champion already, but at this point, no one is realistically expecting anyone to beat "Rowdy." If you're buying a Rousey pay-per-view (PPV), you're paying to watch her perform, so the opponent shouldn't really matter.
See Correira, Bethe.
This has to be a tough pill to swallow for Eye. Despite her boxing advantage and clear wrestling improvement, she took a beating in this fight in her own wheelhouse.
On the bright side, Eye's defensive grappling improvements are certainly real. That will make her a much more challenging opponent for other elite women, and if she can shore up her punching defense, she's largely a finished product.
After this loss, it would be good time to rematch Eye and Sarah Kaufman. The first fight was an entertaining battle with a controversial decision that was eventually overturned to a "No Contest."
Let's run it back!
Last night, Miesha Tate showcased her improvement by smashing Jessica Eye for three rounds. Can Tate somehow dethrone Ronda Rousey?
For complete UFC on FOX 16: "Dillashaw vs Barao" results and play-by-play, click HERE!