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Holly Holm: Miesha Tate presents 'tougher fight' than Ronda Rousey in 'a lot of ways'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Miesha Tate might not be a harder puncher than Ronda Rousey. She doesn't have the same submission skills, nor is she a former Olympic bronze medal-winning judoka.

What Tate does excel at, though, is the in between, the transitions. "Cupcake" is also as tough as they come, evidenced by her coming back from a broken orbital bone in the first round to defeat Sara McMann.

"She's gritty," UFC women's bantamweight champion Holly Holm said during an appearance on The MMA Hour. "That makes it hard to make a clean fight. It's hard to control that type of a fight. Her strength is her grittiness, for sure."

For those reasons, and many more, Holm refuses to concede that Tate is any less of a challenge than Ronda Rousey was for her in November. Holm will defend her title against Tate in the co-main event of UFC 196 on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Holm (10-0) might be a significant favorite against Tate, compared to when she was a massive underdog against Rousey. But this is a different kind of feeling. "The Preacher's Daughter" believes she needs to cement herself as champion here. What would it really mean if she beat Rousey, but then dropped the belt in her very next fight?

"Now there's pressure that I don't want to be this one-hit wonder," Holm said. "I want to be able to show another performance. And in a lot of ways, this is a tougher fight for me. A different fight, just tougher in different areas, obviously."

When Holm fought Rousey, there might not have been outward pressure on her. But it came from inward and there was plenty of it. Holm, a former three-division boxing champion, could not have cared any less that people weren't giving her a chance to win. She kept saying that she knew she could beat Rousey at UFC 193 in Melbourne, Australia.

"I feel like there's pressure that I put on myself regardless," Holm said. "My last fight, was you know what, nobody thinks I can do it, but I think I can. I was telling everybody I believed I could do it. The pressure was, I didn't want to be a liar. I wanted to prove to people that I was really feeling that way for a reason."

Tate (17-5), who has won four in a row, is a new challenge. Yes, she has fallen to Rousey twice before. But a difference in styles can mean everything. Rousey is a judoka and Holm is a kickboxer, while Tate is a wrestler and grappler with an uncanny transitional IQ.

"She's down for the grind, for sure," Holm said. ... "If you land a good shot, you don't want to assume that's going to be the end of the fight. You need to stay focused. She waits for the mistake. She's in there. She's in there physically and mentally to keep up with the grind. They can even make the fight look messy."

Holm's win over Rousey was as clean as you can get. She pummeled the transcendent star with left hands and elbows, then finished with a gorgeous left head kick in the second round that put Rousey straight out. It's hard to expect that kind of thing happening again, which is why Holm won't make that mistake.

"Emotions are different for this fight, because this is a different fighter," Holm said. "This is a different fight. But that doesn't mean I haven't had emotional days in the gym. It doesn't mean I haven't cried in my car. It's just different."

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