Holly Holm made history by handing Ronda Rousey her first loss in MMA, and now we get to see if the new champ has what it takes to keep that belt around her waist against a veteran in Miesha Tate.
We all know Holm can strike – she did it masterfully against Rousey and utterly destroyed her with it. But Tate can strike too, so much of the first round is spent in that tentative limbo that occurs when two fighters are measuring distance and timing. Holm lands more, in the form of sidekicks, punches and a single high-kick, yet Tate scores with a few counters of her own. If anyone edges ahead on the scorecards, it’s Holm, but it’s only by a matter of inches.
Tate scores a takedown early in the second and secures top position in Holm’s guard, where she methodically drops forearms and elbows. It takes a ton of work for Holm to work her way out, and when she does Tate takes her back and starts threatening with choke after choke. Miraculously, Holm defends even the deepest ones, and the crowd goes bonkers until the horn sounds.
Tate goes for two takedowns in Round 3 and they’re both stuffed pretty easily. In the meantime, Holm is judicious but effective with her kicks and punches, pecking away at Tate from a distance. “Cupcake” drills her with a few punches, but the standup game favors the champ, and time runs out in the round with Holm back in control.
Holm continues to defy Tate’s takedown attempts in Round 4, pressing Tate against the fence after one of them, and sprawling hard after another. She doesn’t stop picking her apart with her kicks and combos, either. The points keep racking up, and the champ keeps earning them.
The fifth round is everything the previous rounds saw, up to and including the final two minutes, which saw a desperate but determined Tate finally get her hands around the champ’s waist and drag her down. Holm scrambles, but Tate takes her back expertly, and this time, when she sinks the rear naked choke, it doesn’t matter if Holm resists tapping out: Tate puts her to sleep instead.
Ladies and gentlemen, your new bantamweight champ is Miesha Tate.
Result: Miesha Tate def. Holly Holm via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:40, R5