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Miesha Tate becomes an unlikely ray of sunshine for Ronda Rousey (and other crazy things)

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Don’t like what’s going on in the UFC? Stick around for a few minutes.

Less than two weeks ago Nate Diaz was without a fight. Frankie Edgar wasn’t yet pissed at the UFC (nor had he reconciled his differences). Conor McGregor was chasing history. Ronda Rousey was in her self-induced Hollywood exile, forbidding slithery media types from inquiring about her most sublime traits (fighting). That’s because Holly Holm had her soul in a jar on her kitchen counter in Albuquerque.

And Miesha Tate was nothing more than a hindrance, really, a squeaky wheel that got some grease when Rousey slunk from view after losing her title. 

If Saturday night’s UFC 196 pay-per-view didn’t reinforce the idea that seizing opportunity is the name of the game, then nothing will. The patchwork assembly came in and kicked a fair amount of ass. Diaz, who can be classified as a millionaire today, is on cloud (two oh) nine having defeated the great Mystic Mac via second round rear-naked choke. It won’t be McGregor challenging Robbie Lawler at UFC 200 for the welterweight belt. The seeker had to find out about his limitations, and Diaz was only too happy to point them out.

Now, lo and behold, it could be Diaz getting a title shot. Props to McGregor for giving the pride of Stockton a platform to change his life so drastically and so suddenly by simply never hesitating.

Which probably means a return to featherweight for McGregor, where he holds the title and a number of captives. In a roundabout way, Frankie Edgar may just get that promised title shot yet, even if at this point that sucker lives in a hall of mirrors. Edgar had it, didn’t have it, was offered it, couldn’t take it, got infuriated, now has it again (possibly).

In the UFC, fates like his become a game of Plinko.

Which brings us back to Tate.

Tate had to go through her own nine circles of hell to get a promised title shot. Not that long ago she felt so spurned by the UFC’s change of heart on that front that she contemplated retirement, only to find herself reenergized when Holm — who cut in front of her in line to begin with — blasted Rousey at UFC 193.

Now with the world reopened to her — and never one to be out-monkey-wrenched — Tate dethroned Holm on Saturday night in what will go down simultaneously as her greatest moment in prizefighting as well as a prototypical Miesha Tate encounter. She lost. Then, somehow, she won. If you’ve paid attention over the years, you know that’s how she do. Tate is resilient beyond measure. She said afterwards that what comes next is a cupcake and some watery domestic beer, the kind of thing that will activate even the most dormant of her "superhaters."

But it’s also enough to reopen the world to Ronda Rousey, who — even with the odd talk show appearance — has been cloistered in Venice, suffering through the darkest days of her career. Let’s face it: the prospect of making her return against Tate, a rival whom she’s already defeated twice (the first time for the Strikeforce belt), is infinitely better psychologically than rematching Holm right away. For a competitor under the kind of pressure that Rousey is, UFC 196 was the sun breaking through the clouds.

It’s just the kind of crazy that fuels the fight game.

In essence, Tate didn’t just open the Octagon door back to Ronda Rousey, she made it a gateway for Rousey come back and ruin her for good. Tate, whom she despises. Tate, who will wear a particular kind of snigger for as long as that belt is around her waist. Tate, who just won’t go away.

From Rousey’s perspective, better Tate be imminently ruined than herself. Holm has the same levers working over Rousey’s career. Rousey didn’t appear close to knowing how to deal with that. Now it's all different.

And should Rousey reclaim the bantamweight belt against Tate — as well as any lost swagger, anti-DNB mojo, and authorship of mainstream gullibility — that’s a far better entrance point to the rematch with Holm. Rousey is set up for two huge fights, which beats the hell out of the pending sense of doom she’s been existing in for the last few months. Just like that, Rousey’s fortunes have changed.

Same as McGregor’s, Holm’s, Edgar’s and Diaz’s have. This is a game where the narratives just won’t stand still.

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