Following more than month of rumors and speculation, the UFC temporarily settled the women’s bantamweight debate on Wednesday by announcing that newly-crowned champ Miesha Tate will face Amanda Nunes in a 135-pound title fight at July’s UFC 200.
For the past few weeks, widespread interest in the relatively new three-way war between Tate, Ronda Rousey, and Holly Holm left little doubt that UFC 200 would feature a rematch between two of those three fighters.
And only hours after Tate’s title-clinching victory over Holm at last month’s UFC 196, even the all-powerful Dana White was confident that the third meeting between Rousey and Tate would be the division’s next championship bout.
”I think that Ronda will now fight Miesha Tate for the title. That’s what’s going to happen,” said White. ”That’s what I said before this [Tate-Holm] fight even happened. Whoever wins tonight [UFC 196] will fight Ronda for the title.”
With Rousey’s budding film career expected to keep her sidelined until the fall, the majority of fight fans figured that Tate-Holm II was a lock for UFC 200.
However, according to Tate, the UFC big-shots had something else in mind when they met with the reigning bantamweight queen to discuss the first threat to her throne.
”They thought that Amanda was the next best girl in line,” said Tate. ”They were like, ‘Look, you just beat Holly. You finished her.’ They didn’t feel that it was necessary to have an immediate rematch—it didn’t warrant an immediate rematch. It wasn’t one of those performances or such a crazy fight that we’ve got to have an immediate rematch.”
Considering the current climate within the women’s bantamweight division, it’s a good time to give Nunes her first title shot. Until last November, the division was an extremely predictable one-woman show that had only known one champion in its three years of existence, and the window of opportunity is finally wide open for fighters like Nunes, Cat Zingano, and Julianna Pena.
Furthermore, now that octagon addicts have seen two of the world’s top female fighters lose after years of a Rousey-dominated division, there’s an added aspect of uncertainty surrounding the Tate-Nunez title fight that’s only going to make this match-up more appealing.
At the same time, if Holm’s five-round war with Tate doesn’t warrant an immediate rematch, what does?
Regardless of Tate’s ability to dominate Holm on the ground, the former boxing champion was just as dominant on her feet, landing 59 significant strikes compared to just 40 from the current bantamweight queen. And when a 25-minute title fight isn’t decided until the final few minutes, an immediate rematch is almost always warranted—especially in this case.
But financially, throwing Nunes into the mix now makes a lot more sense for the UFC because it allows the promotion to cash-in on UFC 200’s Tate-Nunes title fight, Holm’s next fight—a headliner that isn’t likely to be for the belt or against Rousey, and the Rousey-Holm rematch when Rowdy Ronda returns in the fall.
Once again, the UFC has found a way to squeeze every penny out of the situation. But this time, it isn’t just benefiting the promotion.