Strikeforce women's bantamweight (135 lb.) champion Miesha Tate, a 14-fight MMA veteran, is ready to make her first title defense since defeating Marloes Coenen via arm-triangle choke on July 30, 2011, but her opponent has yet to be announced.
The 25-year-old champ will likely be matched up against either Ronda Rousey, an Olympic medalist in Judo who holds a 4-0 pro MMA record, or Sarah Kaufman, the No. 3 women's bantamweight in the world according to MMArising.com.
Rousey, 24, has four consecutive victories via armbar, but she's winning fans over with model-like good looks and her natural ability to hype up fights with epic trash-talking. On the other hand, there's Kaufman, who has put in her dues in the sport, but for whatever reason doesn't seem to generate the same fan buzz as Rousey.
Despite being unsure of who her opponent will be, Tate hasn't wasted any time in stirring the pot with mini twit-wars and video interviews calling out both women.
On Jan. 1, Tate told FightHubtv.com that she doesn't think Rousey (4-0) has earned a title shot yet because she hasn't faced any of the top contenders in the 135 lb. weight class. "When you have girls like Sarah Kaufman, who is 14-1, and Alexis Davis, who is 11-4, beating the top girls, it would only make sense that they would be in line before Ronda."
Tate goes on to say in the video that her 20th fight overall was her title fight, while Ronda Rousey has fought in just seven MMA battles in her career, when you include her time on the amateur circuit. "If she goes down to 135 and she keeps winning like she has been at 145, it should be no problem and I won't have a problem fighting her. She is creating attraction for women's MMA, so I think it's good to have her around, but I wouldn't agree with her being next in line for a title shot. She's nine months into her career and I'm almost six years in."
But Tate seemed to change her tune just days later when she was apparently offended by Sarah Kaufman's lack of a response to a public apology she issued regarding comments made about the contender's appearance. On Jan. 3, Tate tweeted "@mmasarah @mmarising existing negative That I called u ugly which I didnt & then when I apologized publicly if u felt offended, u ignored it." Tate added "That to ME is rude."
Kaufman replied "@MieshaTate @mmarising i hear what you're saying, but I'm far from rude. Being too nice has put me in this position so now I'm game playing."
Tate, who just days earlier said she didn't think Rousey was ready for a title shot, appeared to change her mind about giving the 24-year-old a chance due to Kaufman's perceived rudeness. On Jan. 1, Tate tweeted to Kaufman "@mmasarah @mmarising True but at this point I could care less! I've tried playing fair & got NO WHERE! Bring on @RondaRousey!!"
On Jan. 2, a fan tweeted to Tate that her first title defense should come against a fighter who earned it, and he felt that would be Kaufman. Tate replied by tweeting "@SolomonGrundy2 @mmasarah @mmarising @rondarousey agreed but I really don't care anymore, Sarah is rude & Rousey is ready so I'm ok w either."
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker seems to be extremely excited about matching up Tate with Rousey. "Ronda really wants to move down to fight Miesha Tate and I think she's a dangerous fight for anybody," Coker says in a ProMMAnow.com interview. "So let's see when that fight happens. But I think that fight happens sometime [in 2012].
Coker added that he thinks if Ronda can get somebody down, that she'll finish them no matter who it is. "So the question will be, with Miesha or Cyborg or any other fighter, can she get them down, because then that's her game, and she's an Olympic judo stylist," Coker noted. "I mean she is so explosive it's scary. She is so explosive, it is so impressive. As a fan I'm looking forward to those fights happening in the future. … We are going to put all those fights together at some point so the fans are going to be able to have some entertaining fights in the female division in Strikeforce in 2012."
Eric Holden is a lifelong fan of the UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts. His favorite fighters are Miesha Tate and Dan Henderson. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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