Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women’s Bantamweight veterans Miesha Tate and Marion Reneau will collide this weekend (Sat., July 10, 2021) at UFC Vegas 31 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It’s been a touch under five years since Tate sleep-walked to the Octagon en route to a one-sided loss to Raquel Pennington. Tate clearly didn’t want to be there, and her retirement afterward was less than surprising despite her status as a top-ranked women’s Bantamweight. Her return is far more shocking, and it will be quite interesting to see what version of “Cupcake” makes the walk. Reneau, meanwhile, has out-performed expectations for a long time, rising through the ranks in her 40s. “The Belizean Bruiser” has finally reached the end of her competitive career, however, but she’ll attempt to walk away in style by taking out a former champ.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each woman:
Key Wins: Holly Holm (UFC 196), Jessica Eye (UFC on FOX 16), Sara McMann (UFC 183), Liz Carmouche (UFC on FOX 11)
Key Losses: Ronda Rousey (UFC 168, Strikeforce: “Tate vs. Rousey”), Amanda Nunes (UFC 200), Cat Zingano (The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale), Raquel Pennington (UFC 205)
Keys to Victory: Miesha Tate’s nickname used to be “takedown,” and that was no deception. Tate earned her Strikeforce and UFC titles on the strength of her wrestling and grappling skills, though her right hand became more of a factor later in her career.
The strategy could not be more clear-cut here: wrestle. Reneau has genuine power in her hands and good submissions on the mat, but she has always struggled to dictate where the fight takes place. Tate can put Reneau on her back, and once there, Tate has the jiu-jitsu necessary to avoid submissions and find her own offense. Tate does not want to hang around on the feet any longer than is necessary, not while Tate is likely to require an adjustment period to find her timing after such a long layoff.
Besides the base concept of scoring the takedown and maintaining top control, Tate should also keep her energy output in mind. Gassing out against a finisher like Reneau would be a serious issue, so doing her best to maintain a measured pace would be wise.
Top control is Tate’s path to a comeback win.
Key Wins: Jessica Andrade (UFC Fight Night 61), Sara McMann (UFC on FOX 28), Talita Bernardo (UFC Fight Night 115)
Key Losses: Macy Chiasson (UFC Vegas 22), Raquel Pennington (UFC Vegas 3), Yana Kunitskaya (UFC Fight Night 146)
Keys to Victory: Reneau has always been a very dangerous finisher. She packs a considerable amount of power in her hands and has good skill on the feet, and Reneau has pulled off some submissions from her back as well.
All but one of her victories have come inside the distance.
This bout, like many of Reneau’s past match ups, depends upon her ability to maintain effective activity. Reneau is a genuinely dangerous when she attacks, but often, she is lulled into low-volume contests or controlled from bottom position/the clinch.
Reneau cannot allow that to happen if she’s to end her career on a high note. Tate is going to return rusty, and the goal should be to quickly convince her that returning to competition was a bad idea. If Reneau can get off some quick, snappy punches and deny an early takedown or two, that may be it!
Even if Tate holds strong in the face of early adversity, aggression and activity from Reneau increase her odds of tiring out the former champion and scoring an eventual finish.
Miesha Tate’s fighting future may be on the line.
That’s not to say UFC will not give her another shot if she loses — Tate’s a big enough name even now to score at least a couple chances. However, would Tate want to continue if she’s beaten up in her return bout? That’s less clear. If Tate wins, however, she’s established a new platform to build from, and it’s not like women’s Bantamweight is turning away participants.
There are plenty of fighters from Tate’s era still competing that could make for interesting match ups.
As for Reneau, she’s already a badass for competing into her mid-40s. Retiring in the win column would obviously be a cherry on top, but Reneau has consistently been in the cage with the best, and she’s nabbed a few big wins along the way. All credit to her!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 31 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET.
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At UFC Vegas 31, Miesha Tate and Marion Reneau will square off in the co-main event. Which woman will earn the victory?