Miesha “Cupcake” Tate is only 27 years old, but her UFC career has hit a roadblock named Ronda Rousey.
Mauled and defeated by the women’s bantamweight champion this past Saturday night at UFC 168, Tate finds herself in the unenviable position of having gone 1 & 3 over her last four fights and being on a two fight losing streak, with her last four Octagon appearances being bookended by losses to Rousey. In short, her career is in a bit of a trough.
As this is the case, then what can she do about it?
First, she needs an honest assessment of not only her own strengths and weaknesses, but also those of her team’s. If she does a decent inventory, then she’ll come to the conclusion that she has great cardio, solid wrestling and grappling, but lacks what it takes to deal with high level fighters such as Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano, or perhaps even Sara McMann, Cyborg Santos and Holly Holm; should the latter two eventually end up in the UFC.
Simply put, her principal flaws are that her stand-up and Jiu Jitsu need dramatic improvement, and that she’s incapable of dictating if a fight goes to the ground and stays there, or remains on its feet. In a nutshell, she’s a great athlete who needs a lot of work on her takedown and control, takedown defense, as well as her Jiu Jitsu and boxing.
That brings us to her camp and to be honest, fans might scratch their heads as to what that camp actually is. Tate used to train with “Team Alpha Male”, but had a falling out with them in 2012. Since then, Miesha has pretty much been on her own and training with her “significant other”, Bryan Caraway. Of course that’s a shame, because since her departure Tate’s old team has taken on Duane Ludwig as their new head coach, and subsequently, the crew has become one of best and most successful camps in the UFC. As such, Tate might have benefited from whatever skill set and magic that Ludwig seems to poses, had she been training with TAM prior to UFC 168.
However and setting that aide, the fact of the matter is that Tate doesn’t seem to be improving as much as she needs to and consequently, her fans might suggest that she join a good team. Going back to TAM would certainly be a good option, but if that’s not doable and for whatever reason, then there are more than enough quality clubs that would happily greet Cupcake as a new team member. However, Tate could most benefit from a team that had a great Judoka.
One crew that would fit the profile would be “American Top Team.”
The club has a myriad of great fighters that could certainly help improve Tate’s stand-up and ground games, and one in particular that could really help Miesha, and that’s Hector Lombard.
Lombard is a former Olympian and fourth degree black belt in Judo. He also has a black belt in Jiu Jitsu and tremendous boxing skills. Further, he knows how to knock people out. Training with someone of Hector’s unique skill set might at least put Tate on a path to nullifying Rousey’s powerful throws, while at the same time giving her something more substantial to fire back with.
If not Lombard and “ATT”, then perhaps Rick Hawn and “Team Sityodtong." Like Hector, Hawn too is a high level judo practitioner and former Olympian. He’s also developed a formidable boxing game and like Lombard, generally uses his judo to keep his fights standing. As such, there's much that the Bellator 2012 welterweight tournament winner could teach Tate.
In terms of judo, Tate herself knows that it’s an issue. Indeed, in lead up to her UFC 168 title fight with Rousey, Tate had elicited the help of 2012 Olympic gold medallist Lucie Décosse, for her camp. However, bringing in specialists and working with them for a few weeks is not the same thing as training with your teammates’ day-in-and-day-out. And what Tate needs on a daily basis, is to be training with fighters that can push and improve her in the areas that she's weakest.
American Top Team and Team Sityodtong, with the likes of Hector Lombard and Rick Hawn respectively, would be excellent choices for accomplishing that goal.