Miesha Tate made her long-awaited flyweight debut at UFC Long Island.
Tate kicked off the event’s main card on ABC, against former flyweight title challenger Lauren Murphy.
Given women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko’s decimation of the division, a strong performance could land “Cupcake” on the short list for the next title shot.
Murphy found success early against the former champ, keeping Tate on the outside and stuffing the first takedown attempt from the former champ. She landed several strikes uptop, with Tate showing some swelling under the right eye less than halfway through the round. Murphy then changed levels for a takedown of her own, but couldn’t complete it. Instead, Tate reversed, put Murphy on the fence, fired some knees, and worked for a throw takedown of her own. As Tate had done moments earlier, Murphy was quickly back to her feet.
From there, the pair engaged in a gruelling positional battle along the fence, with Tate trying to thread a leg around Murphy’s for a trip, to no avail.
In round two, Tate got her jab going, and followed it with a right hand. Murphy landed a right hand of her own, bloodying Tate’s nose. Within the first 90 seconds, Murphy changed levels and landed a takedown on Tate. Tate worked her way up, but ate several punches from Murphy in the process. The ex-champ would make it up, reverse, and reset at center, but approaching the midway point of the fight was clearly down. Tate put the pressure on, landing two to three strikes in a combo. After a clinch, Murphy landed a slicing elbow; she’d return fire a moment later.
Murphy, however, was landing seemingly every time Tate closed the distance. She’d land another takedown, albeit briefly, though Tate showed some impress balance getting up and hopping on one foot while Murphy latched on to the other leg — ultimately being unable to dump Tate.
Tate then drove Murphy into the fence; when they reversed, Tate landed a nasty elbow in the clinch. Tate finished the round hunting for a takedown.
In the third, Tate connected with a low kick. Tate would change levels for a well-timed takedown a moment later, but it was Murphy who landed on top. They scrambled back to their feet, and engaged once again, with Tate looking for an opening to get things down. In a clinch, Murphy landed a knee, she’d then tag the injured eye of Tate. Tate fired a front kick back at center, threw a jab, and followed up with a right hand. With ninety seconds left, they’d start trading, Tate getting the better of the exchange — which caused Murphy to shoot for a takedown, and Tate to defend by attacking the neck, staying upright.
They’d trade to the buzzer, but there was no question who the winner was, despite both ladies raising their hands in victory. If you weren’t sure, the result was written all over Tate’s face.
Official Result: Lauren Murphy def. Miesha Tate by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)