After a Devastating TUF 17 Finale Loss, What’s Next for Miesha Tate?

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COMMENTARY | On April 13, 2013, former Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate fought mixed martial arts (MMA) up-and-comer Cat Zingano. The latter fighter won the bout, ruining Tate's dreams of a rematch against the UFC Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey. With the win, Zingano will not only face the champion for the title later on this year, she will also coach alongside Rousey on next season's The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 18.

Rounds one and two were dominated mainly by Tate, who used her wrestling to control her opponent. Immediately, however, as the third round began, Zingano shot in and took down the former Strikeforce champion. As "Cupcake" attempted to stand, her troubles were met with vicious knees to the face, followed up by an elbow that ended the bout. As Tate has now lost her UFC debut, the opportunity to coach opposite Rousey on TUF 18, and to face the woman who took her Strikeforce title a little over a year ago, reflection is due.

Tate has lost two of her last three fights. In said losses, the former Strikeforce champion was finished in devastating fashion. In 2012, at Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey, the Washington native nearly broke her arm against the Olympic judoka that is Rousey. Instead, Tate tore the inner and outer sides of the ligaments attached to the muscle and bone.

At TUF Finale 17, Tate was the subject of strikes and violent knees that left the 26 year old a battered and bloody mess. Upon review of these two significant defeats, it is clear that Tate's deficiencies reside in one main area - striking.

The Stand-Up Game: Zingano showed technical striking, and secured the win at TUF 17 Finale with bone-crushing knees and an elbow for good measure. Her striking was crisp, as Zingano began to open up and connect more at the end of the second round. The Colorado native's Muy Thai training showed, as she utilized this aspect of her game to put away the former Strikeforce champion in the third round.

Tate, on the other hand, was never renowned for her striking, nor for her power. Out of her 13 wins, only three have come by knockout. The former Strikeforce champion's forte lays in the realm of wrestling. However, takedowns are great energy consumers. This, for Tate, led to fatigue in the last round, and spelled great disaster for someone whose striking has been subpar. In fact, exhaustion played a major part in Tate's inability to stuff a Hail Mary takedown by Zingano early in the third round, which led to her demise.

More to the point, Tate, at the beginning of her match-up with Zingano, swung wildly in an attempt to clinch with her opponent. This is common practice for the Washington native, as she has done the same in most of her most recent fights.

During her defeat to Rousey, Tate duplicated this wild-swinging gesture, working her way into the clinch with the current UFC bantamweight champion. However, as she faced an Olympic Judo medalist, Tate found herself on her back within the first eight seconds and defending an armbar within the first minute of the first round.

Now that Tate has been taken out the title contention picture, reflection and improvements in her game may be made. As of 2012, Tate was known as a champion of a major MMA brand. If she ever wishes to fight her way back into title contention within the UFC, Tate may wish to balance out her MMA pedigree and develop a striking game that compliments her high-level wrestling background.

Clinton Alexander Bullock has been a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner for many years. He has studied mixed martial arts for 12 years and has been published in the Philadelphia Sunday Sun Newspaper, Next Step Magazine, and Yahoo! News. Follow him on Facebook & Twitter @clintonbullock.

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