Miesha Tate will be aiming to get back in amongst the title picture as she takes on a dangerous Raquel Pennington at UFC 205 in Madison Square Garden on November 12.
After relinquishing her Bantamweight title at UFC 200 where she lost to Amanda Nunes in what was her first defence, the 30-year-old is on the Championship trail once again and a win over Pennington will go a long way in helping Tate possibly secure another title shot.
The same can be said of Pennington who is currently enjoying a stellar run; the 28-year-old has won four out her last five fights and after bursting onto the scene in 2013 after appearing on the Ultimate Fighter she feels she is now ready for a title opportunity, and a big win over Tate would really give her upward trajectory another boost.
Pressure is on for Tate
The early part of 2016 was all about Tate, her victory over Holly Holm at UFC 196 catapulted the Washington born fighter to the top of the women’s division, and after years of trying to claim the Bantamweight title, a lifelong dream of Tate was realised.
Many expected her to go from strength-to-strength, but what happened at UFC 200 was a startling reminder that in the fight game anything can happen.
Her defeat to Nunes was a painful blow, she seemed lumbered with the pressure that night, and Nunes was well deserving of her first round submission victory.
Reflecting on her defeat to Nunes at UFC 200, Tate said: “Sometimes you just have a bad night. I had a great camp. I trained hard. [But] When the cage door closes I have one job, and I didn't execute that."
Tate is no stranger to adversity, she has been in this position a few times in her career and has come out stronger; but you do get the feeling that a loss against Pennington in ‘The Garden’ could be a defining moment in her career; and with some familiar options opening up, a loss could seriously dent Tate’s title ambitions.
By familiar options I mean the return of Ronda Rousey. The 29-year-old is fighting at the end of this year for the first time in over a year, against the champion, Nunes. The history between Tate and Rousey is well known so a victory could go a long way in potentially setting up another bout against her long-time rival, and of course a positive outcome at 205 would really cement her position as being next in line to fight for the title.
Experience might be the key against Pennington
Tate’s experience inside the Octagon could be pivotal next Saturday. Pennington’s rapid rise shows no sign of abating – but if Tate can make the contest scrappy and difficult for her opponent it might stifle her well-rounded opponent.
‘Cupcake’ presents many different qualities in her game, but it is her fearsome submission talent that scare most opponents; it’s rare you see Tate getting involved in a slug-fest. The 30-year-old tends to like takedowns and taking the fight to the floor, and if she succeeds in doing that against Pennington it could be a good night for Tate.
Pennington looking to increase her stock against big-name Tate
Pennington’s previous performances have certainly merited her place on the historic 205 card, but Pennington will be hoping her upward momentum will see her claim a big scalp inside Madison Square Garden next weekend.
The 28-year-old was a product of the 2013 Ultimate Fighter series, and since then she has done well in the Bantamweight division picking up some good victories over Elizabeth Phillips, Bethe Correia, and Jessica Andrade.
This bout against the respected Tate will certainly be her biggest test so far, but it certainly doesn’t seem to faze Colorado born Pennington: "Miesha has established a huge name for herself, but I just see it as another stepping stone towards my goal.”
Pennington’s well-rounded game could cause problems for Tate
It’s hard to fit Pennington into a box; she is not confined to one speciality. In the past she has proved she is handy when it comes to the ground game, and her submission victory over Andrade was testament to that. But when Pennington has to trade blows she certainly doesn’t hold back.
Her fighting ‘brain’ is another aspect of Pennington’s game that is on point. The 28-year-old has a superb knack of gauging distance, meaning she knows when to put the pressure on and when to bide her time, and the fight against Tate could be all about waiting for the opportune time to land that devastating finish.
It will certainly be an entertaining contest, but Tate’s experience will come through and the bout will be won via a decision.