Miesha Tate

Miesha Tate

Miesha Tate was the “MMAWeekly.com Fighter of the Night” for what she accomplished at Strikeforce & M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Henderson on Saturday night. What Tate managed to do is show the MMA world that women can be just as exciting as the men’s side of the sport.

The arm triangle choke she applied on Marloes Coenen was nothing short of spectacular. While in side-control, Tate motioned as though she was about to take full mount, but didn’t stay there. She transitioned over to Coenen’s opposite side where she applied the arm triangle without giving away the fact that she was going for it.

No one saw that coming, especially Coenen. Even as the champion tried to grab her legs to ease the pressure of the choke, Tate used her knee to prevent Coenen from lifting her legs any further.

That’s tactical precision, if I’ve ever seen it.

It’s moves like that that make women’s mixed martial arts so much more entertaining than it’s counterparts in other sports.

Take the WNBA for example. The league was created 15 years ago and consists of the world’s best female basketball players, but they lack the athleticism to do some of the things the male basketball players can do. NBA players have the ability to play the game above the rim, whereas the women play under it. Unfortunately, the sense of excitement fans get from a slam dunk or a blocked shot being sent into the third row is missing when you watch a WNBA game.

In MMA, the exciting moments come when someone gets knocked out or submitted. Both the men and women who compete professionally in the sport are capable of pulling off such exhibitions. On Saturday night, Tate displayed her version of a slam dunk and finished off a defending champion in the championship rounds, keeping her attempt at said submission from being telegraphed.

Impressive, no matter male or female.

“I think I’m not in reality quite yet,” Tate said shortly after winning the women’s bantamweight title. “I can’t believe that I have a belt to take home with me. I really had to dig deep those last couple rounds. Like I said, I had a tough end to my training camp, but I just feel like I went out there and I did what I needed to do and I won the fight and I’m world champion.”

This was a victory for women’s MMA. UFC president Dana White has never been the biggest supporter of women’s mixed martial arts, but Saturday showed it has the ability to garner attention on a national level and receive cheer and admiration at peak decibels.

What’s even more interesting is the surface is barely scratched. There is a plethora of women fighters training in gyms all throughout the country… check that, the world. From Canada, Brazil, Japan, Europe and beyond, women’s MMA is an untapped resource that should be soaked up by the organizations capable of putting on events.

Even if not in the UFC or under the Zuffa banner, the sports growth is undeniable and with that growth will come more opportunity for women to display arm triangle chokes, head kick knockouts, and other exciting moments that make them just as entertaining as the male side of the game.

With Tate now at the top of the women’s MMA world, dreams are becoming a reality for her.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” she said. “To go out there and beat the number-one ranked girl, veteran, pioneer, so much respect for her. And to be the champ, and then, now, getting a chance to avenge a loss, it’s like a double dream (come true).”

And the best is yet to come, not only for Miesha Tate, but for female mixed martial artists all around.

Honorable Mention: Dan Henderson

Dan Henderson

Dan Henderson

It’s not every day you knock out a legend of the sport. On Saturday night, Dan Henderson did just that, throwing an uppercut that sent Fedor Emelianenko face planting.

Henderson did what no other fighter has done over the past decade and finished the Russian heavyweight with strikes, forcing a referee to stop the contest. Doing such a thing made people forget that he’s 41 years old.

Outweighed by a good 16 pounds, Henderson stood toe-to-toe with a fighter who came out swinging harder than anyone else he’s ever faced. Pressured and laying on his back, “Hendo” used a superior wrestling tactic to lift his opponent off of him, opening up the opportunity to control Fedor’s back. At that point, Henderson unloaded a right hand that separated Fedor from his senses.

It was almost surreal to see Emelianenko – a fighter that was once called a “machine” – drop to the floor of the cage, face first. In all his battles in Pride as heavyweight champion, something like this wasn’t even a consideration.

Of course, Fedor was the owner of two consecutive losses prior to Saturday night, but there was no denying that he was very capable of hurting the smaller fighter in Henderson. But Henderson wouldn’t let that happen.

Result: end game.

Had it not been for Miesha Tate’s slick submission and raising women MMA’s status, Dan Henderson would walk away with this “Fighter of the Night” award. Either way, excellent performances by both athletes.

Got something to say? Weigh in with a thought of your own in the comments section below.

Erik Fontanez is a staff writer for MMAWeekly.com.
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@Erik_Fontanez on Twitter or e-mail Erik a question or comment.

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