Author: Brett Okamoto
Date: Jan. 5, 2017
Miesha Tate accepted her first amateur mixed martial arts fight in March 2006. Almost exactly one decade later, she became a UFC champion in Las Vegas.
The rear-naked choke Tate applied to Holly Holm at UFC 196 to cement that 10-year journey is ESPN.com’s choice for submission of the year.
“That was the most overwhelming feeling of my life,” Tate told ESPN.com. “It was the culmination of my whole career coming to a head. It was 10 years ago I actually started fighting, almost 10 years to the day. It really was just a monumental moment.”
Tate submitted Holm in the fifth round of that title bout in March. The situation was pretty dire coming out of the fourth. Tate was down 38-37 on all three scorecards.
A draw was well within reach, but that result would not have won Tate the UFC title. In the event of a draw, the title remains with the champion, and there is no guarantee of an immediate rematch. It’s very possible that, had Tate not stopped Holm in the final five minutes, she would not have won a championship in 2016.
In other words, there was a lot on the line for Tate in the fifth round of that fight. And with less than two minutes left, Tate made her move. She managed to cling to Holm’s back in the middle of a scramble and held on for dear life, as Holm crawled toward the fence and eventually stood up.
With Tate’s choke locked in, Holm tried one final desperate act. She threw her weight forward in an effort to shuck Tate from her back. Tate responded by rolling with the momentum, rather than fighting it.
“I’ve been in that position before,” Tate said. “I’ve had people try to throw me off their back in practice. I train for things like that. Expect the unexpected. I controlled her in the motion, I rolled through it, which actually made the choke a little deeper.”
With the choke 100 percent secure, all that was left for Tate was to wait for the tap. It never came — Holm refused to submit and eventually went out.
Within eight months of that iconic moment, Tate would lose the title to Amanda Nunes and announce her retirement at UFC 205 following a loss to Raquel Pennington. It was a roller coaster ride for Tate in 2016, but her ability to sink that choke in the final minutes of a fight she had to win, against an opponent who knew what was coming, was one of the top moments of the year.
“I just remember thinking, ‘If I get knocked out trying to take her down, so be it,'” Tate said. “I had to make something happen.”
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