Miesha Tate is good for women's MMA. | File Photo: Jeff Sherwood
Fighters deal with a host of outside forces which influence their careers: injuries, opportunities that materialize or evaporate and promotional powers-that-be calling the shots. However, if there is one factor fighters can control, it is the show they put on while competing, knowing they govern perceptions and, ultimately, the market value they command.
Miesha Tate knew that coming into her challenge for Marloes Coenen’s Strikeforce women’s welterweight belt at Strikeforce/M-1 Global “Fedor vs. Henderson” on Saturday at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The result, a fourth-round submission win, was a strong first step in the direction in which she seems determined to keep going.
“I want [the] UFC and Zuffa to understand that women’s MMA is here to stay,” she told Sherdog.com beforehand.
The UFC has cited the lack of depth and the high element of mismatches as negatives attached to women’s MMA -- both valid points, particularly for an organization that has recently expanded from five to seven weight classes. Still, Tate’s win gives Strikeforce an American women’s MMA champion with a highly valuable set of assets; she has an aggressive style, interviews well with a girl-next-door marketability and has a natural rival in Sarah Kaufman as her first title defense.
With some exciting fights and marketable rivalries in the Tate-Kaufman-Coenen trio, along with the presence of the tough Liz Carmouche, women’s MMA in Strikeforce may not necessarily make a strong enough case to be absorbed into the UFC once Strikeforce’s deal with Showtime is up for renewal in 2012. However, it also may become too big to allow it to dissipate and be absorbed by a rival promotion.
Remember, people used to say nobody would be interested in watching 155-pound guys, and, nowadays, it is by far the deepest and most intriguing division in the sport.
Jason Probst can be reached at Jason@jasonprobst.com or twitter.com/jasonprobst.