I said I wanted to talk about Miesha later. I’m a big Miesha Tate fan. I was thrilled when she won the title off Holly Holm, because she’s one of those veterans who has paid dues in this sport. I’ll always be happy when that happens (Glover!). But her title reign was cut short. Cut short by a young woman who was bigger, stronger, faster than Miesha. This is the evolution of sport. And as we saw last weekend, history repeats.
There is something I notice while watching these fights: there is a group of fighters, the veterans, who have a particular style of fighting. They dominated when that was the prevailing style, but they are left behind as training and nutrition evolve. Lots of active fighters have this old style, and the matchmaking process will not usually expose them until necessary.
I won’t name names, but if you’re still foot stomping and head locking in 2021…
Also, there is the issue of size. To succeed in this sport, at the very basic level you must be able to overpower your opponent. Being the bigger person in the cage helps, and it will help you implement the lay and pray strategy, if you’re so inclined. That is the basic step one – be one of those fighters the commentary team says is “big for the weight class.” That helps. Step two of the basic rules is to know how to cut weight and rehydrate. You already know step three.
The basic rules aren’t really that simple. It might work for a few fights, but it catches up sooner rather than later. Strategic weight misses happen. Guys start rethinking their weight class. Welterweights and Lightweights get caught up in this a lot.
Small guys with that old style who used to fight at 155 have to cut down to 145 to continue competing. Feathers become Bantams – that’s just the way it is.
Even the heavyweights are not immune to this pressure. If you want to do the research, you might find that the older HWs were shorter. There are some outliers in the group as well (Volkov, Struve), but in general they also get bigger as the sport evolves. And there’s not a whole lot of cutting down to LHW, as that would entail a fighter lose 50lbs or more. DC, who I had GOATed when he held both belts, was able to do this successfully. Which is why he’s still my GOAT.
But back to Miesha. Why did they match her with a young, bigger, stronger fighter? Were they trying to derail her title shot hopes? Did they think Miesha’s skillset had evolved after 5 years out of the sport? Did she? Maybe it was just one of those things, kinda like the unexpected Glover win?
My view is that Francis and Glover won’t hold their belts for long. Francis operates by brute force; a skilled fighter knows how to exploit this. Glover is my guy, but we know a young man is on tap to snatch that belt.
Izzy will hold on for a few more defenses. Whether a worthy competitor emerges is entirely dependent on the internal analytics.
The rise of Khabib’s guys will take over 155 and 170, but in due time. In time.
If Miesha was serious about reinventing herself she would have made a comeback at flyweight. I’m not saying she would beat Valentina, but she would have had a smoother ride to the top.