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Fighter on Fighter: Breaking down UFC Vegas 43’s Miesha Tate

UFC 196: McGregor v Diaz Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight strap-hanger, Miesha Tate, will throw down vs. rising bruiser, Ketlen Vieira, this Saturday (Nov. 20, 2021) at UFC Vegas 43 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Returning from retirement is rarely a good idea for MMA fighters. For every Georges St. Pierre who comes back in quality form and captures a title, there’s a few dozen Matt Wimans who get pummeled by the new generation of talent. Credit to “Cupcake,” however, as she did indeed look a bit better than ever after her five-year layoff.

Is that improvement enough for a title run and revenge opposite Amanda Nunes? That doesn’t seem likely just yet, but let’s first take a closer look at her skill set:

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 44 On ESPN+

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., Dec 4, 2021, with a thrilling Bantamweight contenders’ bout that will see No. 4-ranked Rob Font battle No. 5-seeded Jose Aldo. In UFC Vegas 44’s co-main event, No. 12-ranked Lightweight contender, Brad Riddell, squares off with No. 14-seeded Rafael Fiziev in a striking fan’s dream fight.

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Striking

Tate is a classic wrestler with a right hand. There’s nothing terribly complicated about her stand up game, but that hasn’t stopped Tate from dropping just enough big shots to make the difference in many of her fights (GIF).

Perhaps the most noticeable change in Tate’s return from her retirement was her composure and distance management. Back in the day, Tate would rush her kickboxing exchanges. She never looked that comfortable, reaching to land that right and crashing forward into takedowns.

Who can forget when Ronda Rousey repeatedly threw Tate as a result of her off-balanced punching and lunging takedowns?

Comparatively, Tate’s boxing vs. Marion Reneau was damn refined! It was still simple — a lot of jabs, 1-2, and overhands — but Tate didn’t force the issue. She would flick some low kicks, feint the level change, and close distance when possible. As a result, that right hand landed more consistently, allowing her to more easily score takedowns too!

The stats don’t lie: Tate landed her significant strikes at 54 percent clip vs. Reneau, a significant step up from her usual numbers.

Defensively, Tate has never been all that difficult to hit. That historical habit of lunging forward carries major defensive risks, and when forced into longer exchanges, Tate typically keeps her head fairly stationary.

Wrestling

Tate become a pioneer for women’s MMA and captured both the Strikeforce and UFC titles on the strength of her wrestling.

A majority of Tate’s peers tend to prefer upper body clinch takedowns, the result of fewer scholastic wrestling backgrounds in women’s MMA. Tate is certainly capable of tripping down her foes from the body lock, but often, she’s driving through her double leg just below the waist.

Tate does well to set up her double off her level change feint and right hands — the overhand right is the natural best friend of the wrestler for a reason! She’s very capable of cutting the corner and finishing the shot in the center or finishing her double along the fence. In addition, Tate will quite often add a trip to her shot, which essentially cancels out the sprawl if timed properly.

Defensively, Tate is generally a hard woman to take down — with the exception of when she continually threw herself into Rousey’s hip tosses in their rematch. Perhaps the best Tate takedown defense moment came opposite Sara McMann. Already down on the scorecards and badly hurt from a previous right hand, Tate managed to reroll her way into top position during a clinch throw, completely changing the course of the fight back into her favor.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Officially a purple belt in jiu-jitsu, Tate has finished seven of her bouts via submission, including both of her title wins. Let’s break ‘em down!

Opposite Holly Holm, Tate brought real composure to the match up. For much of the fight, she picked and poked on the feet with the boxer, biding her time for the takedown. She only scored two takedown finishes, and each time, she found her way to the back.

In the fifth round vs. Holm, Tate was down on the cards and need something big. Ducking under a punch, Tate secured the rear waist lock and dragged her foe down. Immediately, she threw a hook in as Holm tried to stand, pulling “The Preacher’s Daughter” back into her lap. Soon afterward, Tate snuck her arm under the chin, demonstrating why it’s risky to try to turn away and stand up immediately after a takedown.

In her Strikeforce title win over Marloes Coenen, Tate’s submission came methodically. Working from top position, Tate continually worked to pass guard, landing relatively few shots but slowly wearing her foe down nevertheless. In the fourth frame, Tate advanced to side control and started looking to trap the arm for a crucifix.

Coenen defended, but she also opted to attack with elbows from her back. Tate ducked beneath one, driving her head into the armpit across the body. From there, Tate cut across her opponent, driving her knee across the belly to align her body with the choke attempt. A few moments later, Tate’s arm was raised.

Defensively, Tate has only been submitted by Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes. Rousey’s armbar is, well, Rousey’s armbar, so there’s no shame there. Meanwhile, Nunes concussed Tate prior to the choke, meaning the finish was more of a punching power issue than any jiu-jitsu flaw.

Conclusion

At 35 years of age, Tate still appears to be in strong form athletically, and most of the top-tier of her division is of her generation still. Vieira is one of the rare younger fighters who has fought her way up to the Bantamweight elite, so if Tate can turn her away, it’s a real good sign for her title shot goals.


Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport’s most elite fighters.


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 43 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 6 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 43: “Tate vs. Vieira” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.