On Saturday December 28th at UFC 168, Women’s UFC Bantamweight Champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey will defend her title for the second time in a rematch against long time rival Miesha “Cupcake” Tate. Miesha Tate filled in to coach opposite Rousey for The Ultimate Fighter Season 18 after a knee injury forced #1 contender Cat Zingano to undergo surgery.

The first fight between Rousey and Tate took place on March 3rd, 2012 at Strikeforce “Tate vs. Rousey”. Tate was a fairly seasoned veteran having won 12 of 14 career fights (finishing 8 of those fights via submission or KO) and already made a name for herself in the Strikeforce organization winning the 2010 Women’s Welterweight Tournament Title as well as the coveted Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight title. The Olympic Judoka Rousey was a mere 4-0 in professional MMA having won all 4 fights via first round armbar. MMA pundits believed that Tate’s experience would allow her to avoid Rousey’s armbars and dominate with her superior striking.

The fight began and both ladies came rushing out and met in the middle of the cage. Tate popped Rousey with a stiff jab and came swinging with some a series of wild hooks that had Rousey back peddling. Rousey managed to secure a clinch and scored a takedown with a trip that allowed Rousey to fall into half guard and immediately into side control. After shifting top position several times, Rousey secured Tate’s left arm at 1:18 of the first round and nearly finished with the armbar. After escaping the armbar Tate postured up and dropped some heavy shots on Rousey and managed to take her back, threatening with a rear-naked choke. Rousey escaped and the women stood up and slugged it out on the feet, with Rousey scoring yet another takedown, this time with a hip throw. Seconds later Rousey secured full mount on Tate and dropped a series of punches that forced Tate to give up her back. With 47 seconds left in the first round, Rousey grabbed Tate’s left arm again with the armbar and dislocated Tate’s elbow forcing the referee to intervene at 4:27 of the first round.

Having already lost to Rousey in a dominant fashion, has Miesha Tate proven herself to be a worthy title contender?

Since her crushing loss to Rousey, Tate has gone a mediocre 1-1 with her sole victory a submission win over women’s MMA pioneer Julie Kedzie at Strikeforce “Rousey vs. Kaufman” on August 18th, 2012.

On April 13th, Tate was given the opportunity to compete against “Alpha” Cat Zingano in a title eliminator to decide not only the next Women’s UFC Bantamweight title challenger, but also to determine the women to coach opposite Ronda Rousey for TUF 18.

The fight between Zingano and Tate was incredibly competitive with both women slugging it out. Tate’s wrestling looked significantly better in this fight as she was able to take Zingano down several times during the fight. At 2:55 of the third round, Zingano managed to rally hard and stunned Tate with a knee and followed up with some crushing elbow strikes that gave Zingano the TKO victory making her the #1 contender in the Women’s UFC Bantamweight Division.

Just one month after the announcement that Zingano would coach opposite Rousey for TUF 18, she suffered a knee injury and was replaced by the woman she had defeated, Miesha Tate.

Despite the result of the first fight between Rousey and Tate, I believe that Tate is still a worthy title challenger. As noted above, Tate’s wrestling looked to be significantly better in the Zingano fight. If Tate can use her wrestling to keep the fight on the feet, she can pick apart the Olympian Rousey with her striking. Tate made the mistake of trying to takedown an Olympic-level Judoka in the first fight and I highly doubt that she’ll try that again in the rematch. Tate also proved that she was a formidable grappler in the first fight with Rousey as she managed to take Rousey’s back and maintained position while threatening with submissions of her own. I believe that Tate’s well rounded skill set and experience will secure her position among the elite in the Women’s UFC Bantamweight division.

What do you think? Does Miesha Tate have a shot at securing the belt in tonight’s title fight?