SEATTLE – Miesha Tate must first see whether she’s able to avenge a gruesome submission loss to now-UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, who took her Strikeforce belt and set the stage for for her rise to stardom.
After replacing the injured Cat Zingano, she’ll get a chance to do that when the two rematch at UFC 168 on Dec. 28 in Las Vegas, which follows a stint serving as opposing coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter 18.”
But fans also are interested to know what will happen next if she’s able to pull off the upset. Should Rousey win, most would say that a superfight with newly minted Invicta FC featherweight champ Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (12-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) would be closer than ever.
The logical follow-up to that possibility, which was broached on Friday during a Q&A session with Tate at KeyArena in Seattle, is what would happen if Tate (13-4 MMA, 0-1 UFC) is able to pull off the upset.
Rousey is a huge favorite to win the fight, with early lines making her an 11-1 favorite. But Tate said she’s calling in a decorated judo player to help prepare her for the grappling skills of “Rowdy.” Besides, upsets are all too common when people start to make fights before they could potentially happen.
Tate, though, said she’s willing to entertain the idea. That’s provided that Justino meets the same criteria issued by Rousey, who might have fought the virtually undefeated Brazilian had weight and money not gotten in the way.
“I think a true fighter is down to fight anybody,” Tate said. “I know that would be a big challenge, but fighting Ronda is a big challenge. I think everybody is super tough.
“The chance to go in there and be the [second] person to beat ‘Cyborg’ would be worth it. I would for sure take the fight, but I would prefer her to come down (in weight) to fight.
“I would definitely want her to come down because I don’t walk much above 135 (pounds), and she’s already got a huge strength advantage. So that would be fair, in my opinion.”
While Tate’s request is reasonable, the parties negotiating Justino’s contract may not see it that way. Her most prominent manager, UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz, recently hinted that Justino may actually go up a weight class to lightweight rather than down to bantamweight. He said the fighter had an extremely difficult weight cut for her most recent fight, which took place earlier this month at Invicta FC 6 and ended with a fourth-round TKO win over veteran Marloes Coenen.
Then there’s the issue of working out a contract that would allow her to fight with Invicta FC’s blessing, which might not be excited to let go one of its most marketable fighters. Ortiz already rejected one offer from the UFC.
So, like many things in the fight game, there’s a lot of contingencies that have to be met before Tate (or Rousey, for that matter) would get a shot at Justino.
But it’s a fun idea, no doubt. Tate’s standout grappling skills might create problems for Justino, but she would need to get the fight to the ground, and she would have to put her opponent’s back to the mat.
Tate was faring well against her most recent opponent, Zingano, before a flurry of strikes put her on the ropes. To have a shot at Justino, it would seem there’s no other way but to grapple and submit her.
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