Over the first half of her fight with Sara McMann on Saturday night, Miesha Tate looked to be in a world of trouble.
But the popular former Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion rallied over the second half of the fight and thrilled the crowd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in the process.
Tate won via majority decision on scores of 29-28, 29-27, and 28-28.
McMann (8-2) got off to a fast start in the opening round, as she dropped Tate with a crisp right hand and then dominated the bulk of the round in top position.
"I was holding on for dear life," Tate said. "She had me pretty bad."
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In the second, McMann still appeared to be in control, as she showed improved standup skills and scored with dirty boxing. But Tate (15-6) goaded her into a brawl, McMann answered, and Tate caught her with a guillotine as she charged in. McMann held on until the horn, but it was a tight enough guillotine over a long enough time to enable Tate to steal the round.
The pivotal moment in the third came when McMann shot for a takedown. Conventional wisdom had it that McMann, the 2004 Olympic wrestling silver medalist, would win in this department. But Tate got the best of the scramble, landed on top, and spent the entire round working McMann over. Two judges gave Tate a 10-8 in that third round.
"She almost had the takedown," Tate said. "I said I couldn't give it up, whoever ended up on top was probably going to get the round."
Since losing to bantamweight champion and archrival Ronda Rousey at UFC 168, Tate has won three consecutive fights. McMann lost for the second time in her past three.