If I told you there was a fighter, Rin Nakai (16-0) who is undefeated and making her debut against a battle-hardened Miesha Tate (14-5) in the UFC, you would have many preconceived notions about this matchup. However, not everything is visible on paper.
Rin Nakai has been slowly but surely sharpening her skills in Japan the last few years in the hopes of finally being able to compete with the best in the world. She is getting her opportunity this weekend at UFC Fight Night 52.
The 27-year old has been competing in martial arts all her life. She started judo at three years old and went on to be ranked in the top five throughout middle and high school. When Nakai turned nineteen, she was introduced to former fighter Kancho Usami and her journey through MMA began.
Even though the Japanese fighter only stands at 1.55 meters (5′ 1″), she is as wide as she is tall. Over a two year span from 2008 to 2010, she took a break from fighting and added 15 pounds of undeniable muscle to her small frame.
Looking at the level of competition Nakai has come up against, it is no secret that she has avoided much resistance. Fighting in Pancrase and other Japanese promotions has allowed her to basically practice what she has learned in the gym. Although her last two wins were over veterans Tara LaRosa and Sarah D’Alelio, both fights were not impressive to say the least.
Miesha Tate, ranked #2 in the UFC women’s Bantamweight division, is already an icon in the sport of women’s MMA. Her epic battles with Ronda Rousey, in and out of the cage, will forever be engrained into the history of the UFC.
Her debut in the UFC was the “Fight of the Night” at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale, when she battled Cat Zigano. Tate started the fight strong dominating the first two rounds with her wrestling until Zigano came on late in the third to finish her with knees and right hands. Tate felt that she was not out but the ref thought otherwise.
Then, she jumped right into a rematch for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight strap with Ronda Rousey. Instead of being the champion defending the belt, she was the challenger trying to take it away. The former Strikeforce Champion took Rousey all the way into the third round but had to tap to another armbar which eradicated her title hopes.
With that in the past, the American is in the middle of the next phase of her career trying to climb back into title contention. This all began last April when she eked out a decision win against Liz Carmouche. Rather than starting the fight strong, she came on late to steal it on the scorecards.
Tate vs Nakai: Fight Analysis
Miesha Tate is a huge favorite in this fight. The level of competition that she has faced in the last few years is no joke. She has fought the likes of Sarah Kaufman, Zoila Gurgel, Marloes Coenen and Julie Kedzie. And that is not even mentioning the fights in the UFC.
Tate has some of the best MMA wrestling in the women’s division and her striking is not too shabby either. Her experience and six inches in height will be undeniable advantages going into the fight.
Look for Tate to start slow testing Nakai on the feet, then she will go in for some clinch work and finally take it to the ground. Tate will be looking to finish the fight early so she will try to mount quickly and finish with strikes or a submission.
Even as the underdog there is always a chance for an upset. Nakai has a solid base in judo and she is very strong for her size. Her low center of gravity might help her in defending takedowns and going after them.
As of late, her standup has been looking a lot more technical and crisp. She might have the advantage on the feet because she does look a lot quicker than Tate. Despite looking good on the feet, Nakai has the best chance of winning on the canvas.
The crazy thing is both of them have a very similar style but Tate is just better at everything than Nakai. It is expected that Tate will dominate easily but lets just wait and let it play out.
UFC Fight Night 52 takes place on September 20, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. Miesha Tate will face Rin Nakai in a highly-profiled women’s bantamweight match.