COMMENTARY | On a night where Anderson Silva fights to prove he is still the best in the world, Chris Weidman fights to prove his title win wasn't a fluke, and Ronda Rousey fights to cement herself as one of the UFC's mainstream cross-over stars, it is hard to imagine that Miesha Tate is the fighter most in need of a win at UFC 168 tomorrow night. However, that is exactly where things lie heading into the big show.
Regardless of what happens in the main event, Silva will always have his stretch of dominance and invincibility, and Weidman will always be the guy who proved that Silva was human. A loss for Rousey will certainly dim her star somewhat, but, as proven by Gina Carano, it will not take away her movie roles or take her completely out of the public eye.
For Tate, however, there may be no coming back to the highest level of MMA if she gets rolled over by Rousey tomorrow night. For starters, it would be her second loss to Rousey, as she was defeated by armbar in one round in early 2012. That would put her in the undesired company of Benson Henderson, B.J. Penn and Frankie Edgar: fighters with two losses to the champion in their division who got stuck in limbo, as the UFC is generally loathe to give someone a third shot. Effectively, unless Tate ended up in another weight class she would likely have to wait until Rousey lost or gave up the title before getting another shot at it.
Second, and perhaps worse for Tate, it would be her second loss in a row against the upper echelon of the bantamweight division. Notwithstanding the UFC's good job in (understandably) covering it up, Tate actually lost the number one contender's bout for the title shot against Rousey and the coaching spot on "The Ultimate Fighter." It was only after Cat Zigano, the woman who beat her, got injured that Tate was awarded the shot. Another quick loss to Rousey would leave Tate struggling to regain her spot at the top of the UFC's mainstream pulse.
The problem is only compounded by the lack of depth in the women's bantamweight division. Unlike the cases of Edgar, Penn, and now Henderson, there are not many other fights for Tate in the division that could be considered potential pay per view draws if she were to lose tomorrow night. As a result, her days as a potential headline attraction for the company would be numbered, which could conceivably drop her entirely out of the mainstream sports landscape. Both the professional and financial implications could be dire.
Therefore, a lot is on the line for Tate tomorrow night in her fight against Ronda Rousey. On one hand, the win would be the biggest in her career as it would earn her the UFC title and lead to countless mainstream attention. On the other hand, a loss could have a catastrophic effect on her career and end up being her last shot as a top draw in the company. As a result, on a night full of important fights, Tate enters the night with the most to lose.
Del Pearson is a big MMA fan who has been to many live UFC events. His all-time favorite fighter is Randy Couture. Follow Del on Twitter @DelPearson44.
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