Miesha Tate does not know who her next opponent will be, but if it’s Ronda Rousey, the newly minted bantamweight champion believes she’ll be just fine.
“I look at the way that Ronda lost (to Holly Holm) and I have to wonder, ‘Is she ever going to come back the same?’” Tate said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “And to me, I don’t think so.”
Tate (18-5) is 0-2 against Rousey (12-1), with both losses coming via arm-bar submission. The first loss came in March 2012, and the second loss came in December 2013, albeit in the third round. It remains the only three-round fight of Rousey’s career.
After Holm eviscerated Rousey’s invincibility this past November, it is unknown how Rousey will fare going forward.
“Ronda likes things to go the way she wants them to go,” Tate said. “It’s awesome when you’re winning and have the world at your fingertips, but now not only does she lose in brutal fashion, but she also wanted Holly to beat me and now that’s not happening. So now I don’t if she’s going to have a whole lot of true motivation coming back. She’s making movies, she’s in love with Travis (Browne) and really interested in having have his kids or whatever. Whenever I’ve been down and out, my motivation was to come back and be better, stronger, bigger, faster . . . and I haven’t heard her say that one time. I don’t recognize that comeback warrior. I recognize that ‘I’m in it to win it and if I’m not in it to win it, I’m done. I don’t want to lose and learn from it.’ And that’s not how this sport goes.”
Tate knows all about it. After years of coming close but no cigar, the 29-year-old Washington native reached the pinnacle at UFC 196 on Saturday, beating Holly Holm with a late fifth-round submission.
“At that point, I felt like I was fighting the clock more than anything else,” Tate said. “I knew I was running out of time. It’s hard when you’re in there to know for sure if you won or lost rounds. I was really confident I won Round 2, but I know 1 and 3 were close. I believed she had won Round 4, but I figured we got to go on the side of caution. She probably edged me out, and we have to assume she won that round.”
So, Tate did everything she could to win the fifth round – and she did, beating Holm with a rear-naked choke hold to win the title. It was the first five-round fight of Tate’s career.
“I’m just thankful that I got the opportunity. I’m thankful I was able to go in there and win this title,” she said. “I think I kind of messed up plans maybe for some people. I know that Ronda really wanted to fight Holly. But I told everyone, ‘I’m going to throw a wrench in the mix. If Ronda and Holly want to fight each other, that’s great. I want to see that fight, too. But it’s just going to have to be not for a title.’”
Tate, who has won five straight matches, does not know who her next opponent will be.
“I’ve heard some speculation that Dana (White) has said Ronda would get the fight with whoever won, but I have not talked to him directly and I have not talked to my management about it,” Tate said. “Things are said in the media and the press, but you can never really know 100 percent for sure unless you talk straight and hear from the horse’s mouth. So I don’t know for sure. But I do know I’m having a fabulous time right now and I’m really enjoying being the champion. I’m trying to just soak it in. I’m trying to live in the moment. It’s not always a good idea to put so much energy in the lead-up to a fight and expend all this and then immediately the next day be like, ‘What’s next?’”
That’s why Tate, who has already resumed training, is taking time to enjoy this experience.
“I think as a champion I have to stay ready, but I also think I need to have that mental break (and exhale),” she said. “I did it, this is awesome, I’m going to stay in shape, I’m going to be prepared for whatever’s next, but I don’t want tot make away from this moment. This is a special moment in my life. I’ve been working at this for 10-plus years. This is finally the moment I get to sit back and say, ‘Wow, I finally did it. Everything I’ve been dreaming of finally came true.’
“I think to be successful in life, a lot of times you have to believe in yourself when no one else will,” Tate continued. “When everyone else is telling you you can’t, you won’t, you couldn’t, you shouldn’t – that’s been the story of my life. . . . That motivates me. People telling me I can’t accomplish something motivates me. Hats off to all the haters. Thank you for helping me along my journey. I appreciate it.”