UFC 196 Picks: Tate To Take The Championship Belt From Holm

Swinging Johnson

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 9:45 PM GMT

Champion Holly Holm makes her first title defense since her victory over Rousey. Let’s see what the UFC odds makers are saying about her showdown with Miesha Tate. 

Wrestling vs. Striking
The ground attack versus a bomb-dropping aerial assault. That is essentially what this fight comes down to and whichever strategy prevails will determine whether Miesha Tate finally claims her title (albeit without vanquishing her nemesis Ronda Rousey) or Holly Holm proves she’s no one-hit-wonder and retains her crown. It’s pretty much that simple because Miesha Tate will not last if she decides to stand and trade with Holm. Hell, even Rousey believed her striking had evolved to such an elite level that she could knuckle up against one of the best female boxers ever to lace up the gloves and come out on top. I must confess I gave Rousey an even money shot at doing so based solely on her recent string of knockouts but Holm is clearly operating on a different plane. Miesha Tate has only three KO’s on her record and it will stay that way after this one unless she grounds and pounds her way to a TKO.

Conversely, we have Holly Holm who has spent less than one minute on the mat in her 10 MMA fights combined. While that is impressive it also serves notice that getting her offer her feet is akin to turning over a grand piano. Holm does not have a ground game to speak of but her trainers have been vigilant about teaching her the art of takedown defense. However, if Tate is able to do what Rousey failed to do and get Holm on her back then it could be a stunning upset of a match ending earlier than anyone anticipated. Holm must stay upright as long as possible and if she gets taken to the ground she must have a game plan for weathering the storm that is certain to come.

 

Is Holm All That?
Prior to her title fight all the talking heads, MMA pundits and even yours truly gave Holm no chance of defeating the seemingly invincible Ronda Rousey. My assertion was predicated on what she had done in MMA prior to locking up with Rousey which was - not much of anything. Consider for a moment what Holm’s UFC career looked like pre-Rousey. In her first UFC match she earned a split decision over Raquel Pennington, a woman who sported a record of 5-4 before fighting Holm. In her next bout she took on 38-year-old Marion Reneau and copped a unanimous decision verdict from the judges. That’s it - next up Ronda Rousey. Hard to imagine that was the UFC resume that propelled her to a championship title match.

And let us move to her storied boxing career where she collected more belts than Men’s Warehouse. In 33 fights she had only nine KO’s. Granted we are talking about a woman weighing only 135 pounds soaking wet so the lack of knockouts should not be surprising compared to the men’s game but flooring a woman like Ronda Rousey was indeed a shocker.

Therefore, despite the critical acclaim and platitudes from the inestimable Joe Rogan stating that Holly Holm is the greatest female fighter on the planet today, I am reserving judgment because I have my doubts. Holm had a dynamite strategy and executed it to perfection against the former champ who took her challenger far too lightly and decided to beat her at her own game. Fatal mistake and it cost Rousey not only a championship but also her aura of invincibility.

 

Who Wins?
The UFC odds makers opened Holly Holm at about a -400 favorite. That number is dropping as well it should. Miesha Tate is no joke and she will not be arrogant enough to believe she can defeat Holm standing up. She is a wrestler not a judo expert like Rousey so her game will be to drop low and shoot for the legs rather than amble through a minefield of lefts and rights just trying to get in close enough to toss a hip throw ala Rousey. That is a huge difference and one that could determine the fate of this match.

Holly Holm did not impress me in her MMA matches before Rousey and though fighters evolve and get better I’m not sure she has the experience to mitigate a world class grappling foe like Miesha Tate. The press is all over Holm and she is undoubtedly experiencing some of the pressure Rousey felt before her meltdown led to her demise – temporary though it may be.

I am going for betting value here and including Miesha Tate in my UFC picks. Don’t get caught up in the hype because Holm has one historic MMA win under her belt. Outside of that, what else has she done?

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UFC Pick: Bet Miesha Tate +295
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker