Miesha Tate nearly submitted Holly Holm in the second round of their UFC 196 co-main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, but saw that attempt go awry. The second one didn’t, and with 90 seconds left in Saturday’s fight, a new UFC women’s bantamweight champion was crowned, as Tate submitted Holm in the fifth and final round.
“I had to be like a pitbull on a bone,” Tate said. “I couldn’t let her get out of that one.”
She didn’t, capping off her second world title opportunity with an emotional victory that had the crowd on its feet and cheering for the veteran, whose underdog status leading into the bout against the woman who dethroned Ronda Rousey last November had even more fans on her side.
More from UFC 196: Order UFC 196 replay | UFC 196 results | Diaz shocks McGregor | Tate wins title | Latifi, Anderson, Nunes win decisions | Prelims had it all | Sanchez, Saggo and Ishihara win early | Backstage interviews: Corey Anderson, Amanda Nunes, Siyar Bahadurzada, Nordine Taleb, Vitor Miranda | Octagon interviews: Miesha Tate | Diego Sanchez | WATCH: Exclusive GSP interview | Watch the UFC FIGHT PASS prelims here | Picture perfect: Best snaps from Vegas
“I feel like we had a great game plan,” Tate said. “I knew I had to patient and find the perfect moment.”
She had two. But it was the second that hit paydirt after a tense and dramatic contest.
The action was tentative in the early going, as both fighters looked to get acquainted with each other, but in the second minute, Tate made her move, trying to score the takedown. Holm easily tossed the attempt aside and got back in the pocket, working mainly behind her kicks to the leg and body before moving upstairs with punches. Holm’s combinations were strong, and Tate didn’t have any answers yet, as her face reddened.
Tate got more offensive to start round two and she quickly got Holm to the canvas. With the crowd roaring, Tate worked to improve her position, landing strikes to the head and body in the process. With a little over two minutes left, Tate pinned Holm’s arm and began landing more blows, eventually taking the champion’s back. As the final minute approached, Tate sunk in a rear naked choke that Holm fought furiously to escape from, and she did, making it to the end of the round.
Holm was able to turn away Tate’s first takedown attempt of round three, and it appeared to give the southpaw more confidence as she got back to pecking away at the challenger with her strikes, logging the frame with relative ease.
A Tate takedown attempt turned into a clinch controlled by Holm early in round four, but the two broke quickly, Holm shooting out sporadic strikes and Tate just circling, hoping for an opening to put the Albuquerque native on the deck again. With 1:40 left, Holm sprawled out of a takedown attempt beautifully, Tate eating some punches for her trouble. Holm would up her striking output in the final minute too, now firmly in control of the bout again.
Holm’s confidence was at a high as the bout entered the fifth and final round, and she showed no fear of the takedown as she controlled the fight from a distance and close range. But suddenly with two minutes left, Tate made her move and made it count, getting Holm to the mat for the second time. This time when she took Holm’s back and sunk in the rear naked choke, there would be no escape, with the end coming at 3:30, referee John McCarthy stopping the bout as Holm refused to tap.
With the win, Las Vegas’ Tate, 29, a former Strikeforce champion, improves to 18-5; Holm, who was making her first title defense falls to 10-1.UFC 196: McGregor vs Diaz