This part 2 of a series of three interviews with Miesha Tate. You can read “Part 1 – Coaching, Commentary, and Charity” here. “Part 3 – Her Future Outside of MMA and Her Message to the Fans” will be posted on Tuesday July 4th.
It was a shock when Miesha Tate immediately announced her retirement last year after her loss to Raquel Pennington. The former champ had no warning going into the fight she was going to hang up the gloves.
In part two, we ask the question why she retired and cover her Hall of Fame worthy careers, including candid comments about her fieriest rivals.
MarQ Piocos: It seemed like every time you had a loss you would go on a huge win streak. We have seen many fighters take losses and they were never the same again. How were you able to take the losses and continue to come back?
Miesha Tate: It was that Mixed Martial Arts meant more to me than anything, so I was willing to sacrifice more. I was willing to train harder. I was willing to learn and do whatever. It was the number one priority in my life; be the best at fighting.
When I lost, it was devastating. It was absolutely crushing. I cried for months. I was just heartbroken. It was the worst thing. Some people don’t understand how hard it is on a fighter when fighting is everything. It’s what you want and believe you need it. When you lose, it’s just an awful dreadful feeling. You think of how many fight cards you have every weekend that people watch and they don’t realize that 1 person out of two of each fight loses. They lose and go home and feel devastated. It’s a very hard process because winning is a part of it and losing is a part of it.
For me, losing was just so hard on me that I was motivated by it. I was motivated by losing because I knew I could get better, do better, and be stronger for having lost. “Winning is easy”, I’ve always said that. When you win, everything is great Everybody loves you. Life is perfect and awesome. When you lose, it’s one of most difficult things to get over. There’s two ways to look at it. You can lose and give up or you can lose and come back stronger for it.
Piocos: So when you lost to Raquel Pennington, what was different?
Tate: When MMA was my everything, I would always want to come back stronger for it. It wasn’t until after my fight with Raquel that I realize that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to make Mixed Martial Arts my everything anymore. It didn’t mean enough to me. That loss didn’t hit me very hard, and that’s when I knew. The fact that I was okay with losing was not good. I knew I lost and I just don’t feel that bad about it to be honest, because I didn’t feel alive in there. Normally, when the cage door closes and the ref starts the fight, I’m just like boom! I’m in it. I’m alive. It just didn’t make me feel alive anymore. So I knew that fire had been diminished and I needed to accept it. It wasn’t easy but I knew that was the reality of it.
M.P.: Fans were asking if you would have stayed and still had that fire, would you have dropped to the newly formed 125 division?
M.T.: I would’ve stayed at 135. If not go up to 145 (laughs), because I hate cutting weight. I’m just so over that. It’s not good for you. It’s a dreadful process. It’s unfortunate. It’s so much a big part of our sport. I’m more of an advocate of not cutting weight. I wish we were all in just the same playing field, but obviously that’s not reality. But if I was fighting, I definitely wouldn’t want to be dropping. You talk about sacrificing, and all the things that I said earlier (read part 1). Missing those events and now to even think about sacrificing my food and everything else I enjoy does not sound appealing to me at all.
M.P.: Since you retired, you did compete at Submission Underground getting a win over Jessica Eye. You were going to face Cyborg earlier this year, but she was soon cleared by USADA and ready to return to the UFC. Are you still wanting to compete in grappling and is the Cyborg match still appealing to you?
M.T.: I still want to do grappling competitions. I just need a little bit more time for my nose to heal up. I had the surgery in January, and it’s still a tiny bit sensitive, so I’m not comfortable to compete. It will be quite a bit because it was a very expensive and very painful surgery. I definitely don’t want to do that again. I wanted to give it time to get amply healed. I don’t want anything to damage it or have the surgery again.
I like to match up with Cyborg. That could be really fun.
M.P.: Speaking on Cyborg, after her last win, Holly Holm expressed interest in going back to 145 to face the Cyborg/Megan Anderson winner for the title. Cyborg is obviously favored and was what the UFC wanted to see. What are your thought?
M.T.: I really like the match up with Holly and Cyborg, because how we have the right patients and tactical style to give Cyborg problems. I think she’s just so good at being the matador. It might be hard for Cyborg to get a hold of Holly. It’s not the easiest thing to do.
I like that and I think they’re developing a great game plan. She’s at great gym (Jackson/Wink MMA). I’m not saying that she could actually win, because Cyborg is just so dominant, but I think she could give her a run for her money. And if she landed that head kick she landed on Bethe Correia, Ronda Rousey, and a lot of other people, she could put Cyborg out with it. I definitely see she has a way to be Cyborg, which I like, because I think a lot of other girls don’t have a way to beat her.
M.P.: Someone who has been very vocal about facing you in grappling has been Tara LaRosa. You two have a lot of history. Is that a match you would be interested in?
M.T.: It’s not that I wouldn’t. It’s just that Tara Larosa really pisses me off, and I don’t like doing her any favors. It’s not like I don’t want to choke her head off, but I think she’s trying to stay relevant by poking the bear. I feel like it would do a lot more for her than it would for me. That’s my only qualm with it. She really irritate me.
It’s not that I wouldn’t do it because it would be really fun to choke her out.
M.P.: Speaking of rivals,I would be remiss not to talk about your rivalry with Ronda Rousey. Many argue that Rousey was the one who got the women’s divisions in the UFC. I tend to argue it was you and Ronda both who did with your feud in Strikeforce. Every great champion in any sport needs a nemesis. What do you think the fans and history will say about you and Ronda?
M.T.: For me, I don’t care one way or the other how people view it, but people will believe what’s publicized. A big part of it is that Ronda is more famous than Miesha Tate. She’s more of a star than I am, which is fine. I don’t really enjoy that anyways, so she can have it. But when we first started, if you follow the backstory, it was at least 50/50. She brought something to the table, and I brought something to the table. It was both of us together that I think helped attraction in the division.
To be honest, there would be no division in the UFC with our fight. I promise you, if Ronda didn’t fight me that night I don’t think women’s MMA would be where it is today. I really don’t. Granted I lost, but I basically donated my arm to create a division in UFC. If I didn’t fight the way that I fought and if we didn’t have the lead up that we didm it wouldn’t have happened. I could’ve tapped and it wouldn’t have been such a big splash, but the fact that I literally let my arm snap in half because I’m not stubborn and determined it made her look even more amazing. I’m not taking anything away from her, but it was definitely both of us. If we were to go out there and just have a flop fight or if I didn’t come out with tenacity and she didn’t come out with her skill set, it wouldn’t have been what it was. It wouldn’t have left an impression. I am at least 50% responsible for that pivotal moment. That’s the moment Dana White and Lorenzo Feritta decided we need women in the UFC. So you can’t say that I didn’t have a pretty good part in it.
M.P.: We have seen in other sports where rivals mellow over time and wind up burying the hatchet. Do you think you and Ronda will ever do this?
M.T.: I don’t anticipate a change in how we feel about each other, because I don’t think either of us cares enough to make an effort. I just don’t feel I missing anything not being friends with Ronda. She’s a very different person than I am and we don’t see eye to eye on very many things. It’s okay. You don’t have to like everyone on the face of this planet. I get along with almost everybody and I’m okay with that. I don’t feel I need to fix it. There’s no need on my part I doubt there’s any on her part to entertain the idea.
“Part 3 – Her Future Outside of MMA and Her Message to Fans” will be posted on Tuesday July 4th.