LAS VEGAS -- Conventional wisdom is that if Miesha Tate beats Holly Holm, it'll be due to her superiority in the grappling and wrestling exchanges. Tate, though, has viewed something else that she believes can be exploited.
Holm might have a substantial pedigree as a striker -- she was a three-division boxing champion and one of the best female boxers ever. But Tate thinks if she lands hard punches, she could have quite a bit of success against Holm, the UFC women's bantamweight champion.
"I think that Holly's chin might be a little bit suspect," Tate said Wednesday at open workouts. "I have seen her wobbled a couple times. There were some punches that didn't look like they were anything more than I could deliver, that's for sure. I think that's a little bit questionable, too."
Specifically, Tate is referring to Holm's UFC debut against Raquel Pennington in February 2015 and her fight with Ronda Rousey back in November. Holm won both of those fights, but Pennington dropped her in the third round and Rousey rocked her in the first. Tate has taken note.
"I've watched some of her fights and I've seen her chin get tested, and I think it's a little bit suspect," Tate said. "I saw Raquel put her down with a shot and actually even Ronda caught her with a left hook and she wobbled. So it just leads me to think that she might have great striking, but maybe a glass chin, too. I don't know."
Tate will challenge for Holm's title in the co-main event of UFC 196 on Saturday here at MGM Grand. This is not a new experience for "Cupcake." She fought Rousey at UFC 168 in December 2013, losing via third-round submission. Since that bout, Tate has won four in a row. She was promised a third fight against Rousey last year, but the UFC tabbed Holm over her.
The rest is history. Holm knocked out Rousey to win the belt. With Rousey filming movies in the first half of this year and Holm wanting to fight before a rematch, Tate was the clear choice. And "Cupcake" could not be more sure of herself going into this fight. She was incredibly loose, energetic and confident Wednesday.
"I can't give any specific fight predictions," Tate said. "You never know. That's the awesome thing about it. You never know how it's gonna go exactly. I can promise you I'll win on Saturday. That's about all I know."
Tate said she'd shy away from striking exchanges, but she surely doesn't seem too enthusiastic about fighting Holm's kind of fight. The last thing Tate wants is for Holm to pick her apart from range. Tate excels in transition and that will likely be her game plan -- to mix things up as much as possible.
"It all depends on how I move and I think that I dictate that," Tate said. "I dictate that. If I come running at her, yeah she's gonna [hit me]. If I have a change in strategy, that could definitely change things. Holly is a very precise and clean striker and a clean fighter. I think I'm a messy fighter. I think I like to make things messy and I will. I will do whatever it takes to win this fight. If I don't allow her to just be at that perfect range to land those perfect strikes, this could be a very ugly fight for her."
And that doesn't mean she's ruling out landing a few big strikes of her own to test Holm's chin. It just has to be done correctly.
"The thing is she has great head movement and great footwork, so landing a solid right hand could probably put her down," Tate said, "but I've gotta put it in the right place at the right time."