This is a joint piece by MMA Wreckage’s Stephen Rivers and Victor “Juice” Vargas. each takes one fighter and makes their case as to why they could emerge victorious.
Stephen’s take on Tate
I feel like this is such an awkward fight for Tate and almost puts her in a no-win situation. Who has ever really looked good against Pennington? Holly Holm didn’t. Neither have any of the fighters who “Rocky” managed to drag into her type of fight and beat up in the clinch. And that style poses a problem not only in the cage, but in terms of what this fight does for Tate’s career. Pennington is vastly underrated, to the point where if Tate wins in the eyes of many fans it’ll be a “so what” victory. Those fans will be wrong.
While Tate’s technique in all areas is within the range “sound” to ” excellent”, it’s the intangibles that she brings into the cage with her that make her so hard to beat and can get her through the sort of awkward battle of toughness that she is likely to face against Pennington. Tate got lit up by Sara McMann, then came back to outgrapple the Olympic medallist and win a decision. Tate got outboxed by Jessica Eye, then came back to rock her hard and control the rest of the fight. Unless you are going to break Tate’s face a la Amanda Nunes, or execute a perfect armbar a la Ronda Rousey, you’re going to have a hard time beating Tate, and Pennington has neither of those things in her arsenal.
This won’t be spectacular. To many it won’t even be impressive. Tate can tough it out when the fight goes into areas she doesn’t want it though, and can dominate when the fight hits the ground. Over three rounds you have to imagine that Tate can time a takedown or two, and when she does she should have a distinct advantage. That might just be enough in a fight as close as this.
Juice’s take on Pennington
Raquel Pennington, the Colorado journeywoman is about to meet her toughest foe to date. “Rocky” has faced some assassins in her young career. From former title challenger Cat Zingano, to now strawweight contender Jessica Andrade, to greeting combat sports great Holly Holm in her Octagon debut. Miesha Tate is “the woman that beat the woman” in Holly Holm, on paper this should be Pennington’s toughest fight to date, however the reality of this fight can look a lot more competitive than what the odds may suggest.
Tate is a woman notorious for fighting up and down to the level of her respective opponents. She tends to have ridiculously exciting brawls against aggressive opponents and usually has snoozers against more conservative, safe fighters. She’ll rise to the occasion against greats like Marloes Coenen but also wins razor thin decisions against opponents like Liz Carmouche. The glaring issue here is that “Rocky” finally seems to be coming into her own. Pennington is on a three fight win streak after her loss to Holly Holm. She avenged her loss to Jessica Andrade, decisioned Brazilian brawler Bethe Correia and dominated Elizabeth Phillips. Pennington now seems confident, her confidence in conjunction with her slugger style can be a real problem for the former Strikeforce and UFC champion.
Miesha Tate is not only a gutsy and determined fighter, she’s a determined woman. It’s hard to keep the girl down for very long, Tate is very intelligent and is constantly seeking advancement, I suspect this was the case for this camp just like every camp before it, the problem is there’s a lot of weight on Tate’s shoulders and Pennington has nothing to lose and everything to gain. It is difficult to showcase your skills when fighters don’t engage you in your strong suits, Tate is a fighter that usually ends up meeting her opponents at their strengths at one point or another. Although Pennington doesn’t possess one punch knockout power like Amanda Nunes or world-class judo and submissions like Ronda Rousey, Pennington does have a criminally underrated boxing game. Given the opportunity to strike at her preferred range, Pennington will usually have great success. Tate will have an undoubted advantage on the mat, but Pennington is not the easiest person to take down.
Tate will be walking a very fine line on Saturday night. A first round submission loss isn’t the worst thing in the world, but Tate was not nearly outgrappled and caught by Nunes, she was bludgeoned. Nunes was merciless in her finish of Tate, she did what no one in her career had done thus far, she broke her; quite literally, as memories of Tate’s broken nose wipe across your mind. It was not shocking to see Tate lose her title, but it was shocking how easily it was taken from her. With a questionable mindset and an ever-improving Pennington eager to make a statement against a former champion, it’s difficult to be confident in a Tate pick. Expect a fun scrap with a close decision nod for Raquel Pennington.