Marloes Coenen

Marloes Coenen

This Saturday night, Strikeforce women’s welterweight (135-pound) champion Marloes Coenen (19-4) steps into the hexagon to defend her title for the second time this year against challenger Miesha Tate (11-2). The two square off at Saturday’s Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson in Hoffman Estates, Ill., just outside of Chicago.

The Dutch champion has won three of her last five bouts. One of the losses was to women’s pound-for-pound elite and the much larger Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos.

Since the loss to Santos, the 30-year-old captured the Strikeforce women’s welterweight title by defeating Sarah Kaufman, and then went on to earn a spectacular come from behind victory over Liz Carmouche.

“I’ve been training for quite a while now,” Coenen said last week.

“What we do for every opponent is we adjust small details.  I’ve learned from my last two fights, and I’m really ready to go now.”

Coenen’s opponent has been very critical of the champ’s performance against Carmouche, leaving fans and pundits alike questioning what Coenen will do differently for this fight.  The fight Coenen had with Carmouche highlighted a lack in defensive wrestling, which is the strongest part of Tate’s game. Tate has both won a state championship in high school wrestling and the USA grappling’s world team trials at 158.5 pounds.

“You can imagine that (wrestling) has been a big part of my game, but we also have been working on my ground game and my stand-up. I worked with a lot of wrestlers too, so I hope this pays off.”

Women’s mixed martial arts has seen a significant rise over the last few years.  The Strikeforce women’s welterweight champion has been a part of the sport since 2000, and states that women have gotten far better over the years, that she used to take fights with females much larger than her just to stay active.

“I started off fighting in Japan because it was the center of MMA, but now the center of MMA is in the United States.  It started off with Gina Carano who really made a good effort to promote women’s MMA.  Then it was Scott who picked it up and introduced two weight classes and things evolved further.

“What I’m seeing is the technical department evolved further, women have become more technical and more stronger.  When I was fighting back in the day, we had open weight categories and you could fight an opponent that could be more than 50 pounds, even more, heavy than you are.  It’s now more professional and the girls have become better and better.

“I’m so happy that we’re a part of the Zuffa family so we can showcase our skills for a really big audience.”

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