Miesha Tate weathers early storm, wins decision and earns title shot
For the second straight time, former world champion Miesha Tate survived hairy moments early on to come from behind and score an impressive decision victory. Tate was wobbled early by Jessica Eye in their UFC on FOX co-main event but ended up doing the most damage and controlling the ground action to earn a unanimous decision.
Scores were 30-27 from all three judges in Tate's favor.
"The first 30 seconds or minute or so was a little like, uh, OK, I need to adjust, and then I really sat into my striking, I really made up my mind that I was going to do that," Tate said.
However, Eye struck first, rocking Tate with head-punch combinations in the first round. Though both women were equally eager to exchange with strikes on the feet, Eye's punches came with more volume and just a bit more speed to get the advantage.
After getting hurt again from punches to the head, Tate shot in for a takedown but was defended by Eye. Another shot was once more stuffed, but then Tate landed a hard overhand right to the head of Eye that sent the Ohio contender falling backwards onto the mat.
The rest of the round was spent with Tate on top, inside Eye's half guard. Tate peppered Eye with left elbow strikes, while Eye was content to hang on with a lockdown half guard, control Tate's posture with her arms, and ride out the clock.
Both women clipped each other with punches in the second, throwing defense aside. Two more overhand rights from Tate hurt Eye again.
As Eye reeled backwards, Tate followed up with more punches and tripped her to the ground. Eye gamely locked on a reverse triangle choke off her back, in side mount, but Tate escaped in short order.
Tate locked on a guillotine from the top position and arched her back for the finish, but Eye's half guard prevented the choke from being completed. With seconds left in the round, Eye reversed positions, began to pass Tate's guard and finished the period on top.
In the third and final round, Tate shot in early, but the attempt was defended with relative ease. Eye began to score more with kicks, especially an inside lead one that reddened the knee of Tate.
Eye began mixing in left high kicks with the low ones, but was soon taken down by Tate. From there, Tate took the dangerous boxer's back.
Eye defended the choke well but could not escape Tate's dominant position. After the ignorant crowd called for it, boorishly, referee Yves Lavigne made one of the most intrusive stand-up calls in recent MMA history when he handed Eye the assist and stopped Tate from attacking the back and forced both women back to their feet.
Only seconds remained in the round, at that point, and all that was accomplished was that a fighter in danger from inside a dominant position was relieved of that danger by the referee and not by her own doing. In the end, the referee could not alter the outcome of the fight despite his call, as Tate had already done enough to earn the decision.
The win was Tate's fourth consecutive since losing a bantamweight title bout to champion Ronda Rousey in 2013, and earned her a fight against the winner of next week's UFC 190 main event between Rousey and challenger Bethe Correia.
"Miesha Tate once again proves what a durable, tough woman she is," UFC president Dana White said.
Tate's boyfriend, Bryan Caraway, also won Saturday night, winning a unanimous decision against Eddie Wineland.