UFC betting: Can former champion Miesha Tate shine after long layoff

·Combat columnist
·3-min read

LAS VEGAS — The last time we saw Miesha Tate in the Octagon, it was, to be honest, an ugly site. She dropped a unanimous decision to Raquel Pennington on Nov. 12, 2016, at Madison Square Garden and announced her retirement in the ring.

Losing to Pennington wasn’t such a bad deal; Pennington, after all, was one of the best bantamweights in the world.

It was the way that Tate lost. She seemed completely finished, as if she had nothing left to give. Retirement made great sense for her.

She became a podcast host, an executive with One Championship and, most significantly, a mother two times over.

The itch to fight never fully left, though, and on Saturday, the former champion will return to UFC action when she faces Marion Reneau at Apex in what coincidentally is Reneau’s retirement fight.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 26: Former UFC bantamweight champion Miesha Tate interacts with media after the UFC 260 weigh-in at UFC APEX on March 26, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Former UFC bantamweight champion Miesha Tate interacts with media after the UFC 260 weigh-in at UFC APEX on March 26, 2021, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

When fighters are out more than five years, as Tate has been, it’s always risky to bet on them. It’s hard to know what you are getting with them.

But Reneau is 44 years old and on a four-fight losing streak. She hasn’t won since submitting Sara McMann in 2018.

Tate is 34, 10 years younger, and she’s very active on social media, so that gives us an idea of what she has been doing.

Tate has maintained a high fitness level, and that in and of itself may be enough for her to defeat Reneau. Tate is a -135 favorite at BetMGM, which isn’t a high price to lay on a former champion whose body hasn’t taken serious abuse for a long time.

Tate’s a good wrestler and that also will help her control the fight.

McMann was an Olympic silver medalist wrestler, but that was 41 months ago and Reneau is also not the same fighter.

Look for Tate to grind out a victory. I wouldn’t expect anything spectacular from Tate, but betting her to win or picking her to win by decision should be a safe option. Each of Reneau’s last four defeats have been by decision, and she has never been finished.

I’ll lay the -135 and take Tate to win. BetMGM doesn’t have its prop bets posted yet, but if you want to get slightly better odds, bet Tate by decision. She’s talented enough to win by finish, but it’s unlikely given her long time away.

In the main event, expect the opposite: Look for a spectacular performance by Islam Makhachev in his five-round lightweight fight with Thiago Moises.

Makhachev is on a seven-fight winning streak and his only loss was a KO at the hands of Adriano Martins on Oct. 3, 2015. That was a fight that former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, Makhachev’s close friend and now assistant coach, urged him not to take at the time.

But Nurmagomedov told Yahoo Sports that he believes Moises is a difficult fight but expects Makhachev to win it and soon win the lightweight title.

Moises is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, but Makhachev is a phenomenal wrestler and one of the best grapplers in the UFC.

Makhachev is a prohibitive favorite at -650, while Moises is +450. I hate to lay that kind of money, especially against a black belt in what figures to be a grappling contest.

But Makhachev is so good, I’ll lay the money and play him to win.

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