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UFC Vegas 31: Marion Reneau vs. Miesha Tate Preview

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UFC Vegas 31 is headlined by two fast-rising prospects in the lightweight division, Islam Makhachev, and Thiago Moises, which is sure to be a very interesting stylistic clash. However, the co-main event is the exact opposite, as two of the longest-reigning veterans of female mixed martial arts inside the UFC are scheduled to go to battle.

Marion Reneau vs Miesha Tate is a very interesting matchup for a couple of reasons. Number one is obvious, and that is the return of Tate after a nearly five-year hiatus. In the red corner, we will see Reneau entering the final bout of her professional career. With so much on the line for both women, fans could be in store for a fun fight!

Marion Reneau vs Miesha Tate: Meet the Fighters

Marion “The Belizean Bruiser” Reneau

Marion Reneau
ORLANDO, FL – FEBRUARY 24: Marion Reneau celebrates after her submission victory over Sara McMann in their women’s bantamweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Amway Center on February 24, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

As previously mentioned, this Saturday at UFC Vegas 31, fans will see Marion Reneau fight inside of the octagon for the final time. At 44 years old, she is one of the oldest fighters on the roster, and as a result, holds a ton of high-level experience. Reneau comes into this fight against Tate with a record of 9-7-1 (5-6-1 in UFC). 

It is only recently that Reneau has amassed a below .500 UFC record, having lost four straight fights after starting 5-2-1 in the organization. All of which have come by way of decision to the likes of Cat Zingano, Yana Kunitskaya, Raquel Pennington, and most recently, highly-touted prospect, Macy Chiasson

On the flip side, Reneau does hold two high-profile wins against Jessica Andrade and Sara McMann, both by way of submission. “The Belizean Bruiser” is no stranger to finishing fights, however, as eight of her nine wins are a result of her stopping her opponents. With Reneau stating this will be her last professional fight, one must think she is wanting to come out and make a statement one final time. And there is no better way to do that, than by putting a stop to the comeback of Miesha Tate. 

Miesha “Cupcake” Tate

Miesha Tate
LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 5: Miesha Tate celebrates her submission victory over Holly Holm after their women’s bantamweight championship bout during the UFC 196 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Former Strikeforce and UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion, Miesha Tate, is making her return to mixed martial arts after having last competed in November of 2016. One of the pioneers of female MMA, Tate has been fighting professionally since 2007. She comes into her comeback fight with a record of 18-7 (5-4 in UFC), with three KO/TKOs and seven submissions to her name. 

After a very successful run in Strikeforce, Tate actually began her UFC tenure 0-2, with these losses coming to Cat Zingano and rival, Ronda Rousey. Not only would Rousey defeat Tate to win the Strikeforce belt, but also kept her from capturing the UFC gold as well in their second fight. However, Tate would bounce back in a big way, rallying off four straight wins en route to her second UFC title shot, and this time, “Cupcake” would make the most of the opportunity.

After being down on the judges’ scorecards in her title fight against Holly Holm, Tate would have no choice but to go for a hail mary finish in the fifth round. And that she did, shocking everyone when she was able to lock in a rear-naked choke with only 90 seconds to go in the fight and put Holm to sleep to become bantamweight champion. It was one of the most memorable comebacks in UFC title fight history and there was such a special feeling in the air after seeing an all-time fan favorite secure the ultimate goal. 

The dream would be short-lived, however, as Tate would lose her title in her first title defense against the now greatest female fighter on the planet, Amanda Nunes. Of course, Nunes has not looked back since and has gone on one of the greatest runs in UFC history, capturing a second title at featherweight and defending both belts a combined seven times. For Tate, she would go on to lose her next bout to Raquel Pennington and retire from MMA immediately following the decision.

Now, Tate returns at UFC Vegas 31 and seems to have more motivation than ever. Tate has stated that she is mentally prepared better now than she has been her entire career, with a happy personal life and the newfound love of motherhood following the birth of two children. Tate seems to not only talk like she is ready but also looks to be in the best physical shape of her life. While her opponent, Marion Reneau, is on a four-fight skid, this is far from an easy fight to come back to. However, should Tate return to form here and put on a solid performance, the former champion may be on her way back in title contention before long. 

Fight Breakdown

Stylistically, both of these fighters are very well-rounded. On the feet, the fight should be near dead-even in terms of skillset. Reneau carries some very solid power and can do some serious damage with one shot. For Tate, she is not known so much for her power as she is with her great level changes, into a right hook. It is one of her most used and successful combinations. Tate likes to turn the standup into a brawl, while Reneau will be the one looking to control the feet at a more steady pace and look to land the big, clean shots.

The ground is where this fight can get very interesting. On one hand, Reneau is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and has shown to be very dangerous from her back, having submitted both Andrade and McMann both as previously mentioned, with a triangle choke. For Tate, she has always been known as a fantastic grappler, that uses a grind it out style to constantly look for the finish. 

If Tate can land the takedowns will inevitably be a part of her arsenal, she could easily find a way to finish this fight or grind out a decision. For Reneau, should she get taken down, not all is lost, as she is comfortable as anyone on the mat. While Tate has been finished before, both by KO/TKO and submission, Reneau has never been finished. These two women are as tough as they come and are no strangers to digging deep in fights.

Both Reneau and Tate are looking to come out of UFC Vegas 31 having made a statement and for two very opposite reasons. Marion Reneau looking to secure one final victory to ride off into the sunset. Miesha Tate looking to return to form and let the bantamweight division know that one of its’ staples is right back where she belongs. There will be a big takeaway from this bout, however, fans now must sit and wait until the octagon door closes to see what it may be!

Let us know in the comments what your predictions are for Marion Reneau vs Miesha Tate!


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Dominic Sallee is a Combat Sports writer. He focuses primarily on the UFC, with plans to venture out with pieces from other MMA organizations in the future. Along with writing, Dominic is also the Co-Host of the Below Average Joe's MMA Podcast, which produces 2-3 new episodes per week about all things in the MMA community!