Miesha Tate has been turning heads in mixed martial arts for as long as she’s been fighting. She has always received attention for her stunning good looks, but now she’s turning heads for another reason. The focus has switched from her looks to her skills, and there’s no denying that Tate is amongst the most talented women in the sport.
Few gave Tate a chance against submission phenomenon Marloes Coenen when they met last July, and ever fewer thought she`d be able to tap the 11 year veteran. This didn’t deter “Takedown” from dominating Coenen before getting the submission via arm-triangle choke in the fourth round, capturing the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Championship, and cementing her spot as an elite level mixed martial artist.
Next up for Tate is the outspoken, abrasive, and ultra-talented Ronda Rousey. These two women don’t get along and the tension is sure to continue building heading into their March 3 bout.
CagePotato recently talked with Tate about her upcoming bout with “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey.
We haven’t seen you in the cage since July. Was there any particular reason for the long layoff?
That was all Strikeforce. I really didn’t have any say in that. I think it`s hard for them at times, especially with the transition going from Strikeforce to the UFC umbrella finding time to televise the women`s fights along with all the other fighters they have on board with Strikeforce.
Would you have preferred to be back in the cage sooner?
Yeah I would have. I like to fight every three or four months. I find it easier for keeping your momentum and you feel like you have something to work towards. Sometimes when it gets spread out a bit more it’s not as fun because you train to compete. You compete because it is fun and you love it. When you don’t get to do it as often, it’s not as fun.
Is there any added pressure being the main event of a major Strikeforce card?
Yeah, it’s more like excitement though. It’s not like pressure in a bad way where you feel kind of negative stuff from it. I’m just excited to have the opportunity and I think it can do really big things for MMA and women’s MMA in particular.
What were your initial thoughts when Strikeforce offered you Ronda Rousey instead of Sarah Kaufman?
Well, I thought it wasn’t fair. I think we can all agree that Sarah Kaufman was next in line. She was the number one contender. With that being said, I don’t think it was fair but it’s also an entertainment business. It’s not always about the fights and who’s next on paper. Sometimes it’s about the fights that people want to see most. Without the fans we don’t have a sport. We don’t have a mainstream sport anyways. I understand that Strikeforce wanted to put on a fight that they thought would produce the most interest in women’s MMA and right now that is Ronda Rousey versus myself.
How important is it to you to avenge your loss to Sarah Kaufman?
It would mean a lot to me. That’s the loss I feel like I could have done so much more. I feel I could have won that fight the first time had I known what I know now. Given a second chance, I definitely think it would be a different fight and a different outcome being that I would be the winner.
What have you done, or what do you plan to do, to train for the Judo that Ronda Rousey brings to the cage?
I still believe and I’ve always believed that when you do it right, wrestling trumps judo. The difference between judo and wrestling for the most part is the gi. That’s what separates wrestling from judo. So all the throws that judo people do, when you take the gi off, are wrestling throws. That’s where freestyle wrestling comes in, and Greco-Roman and all those kinds of things. You take the gi off, it changes things a lot. It becomes more of a wrestling sport and I believe I have a stronger wrestling background than Ronda does. I realize judo people use foot sweeps and things that like a little more than wrestlers do but I’ve put together a really good game plan with my boyfriend Bryan Caraway who has been wrestling a long time, since he was really little. A lot of it has to do with your stance, and implementing my game plan so she doesn’t have a lot of time to think about what she wants to do. I want to keep her on the defensive rather than allowing her the chance to be offensive.
How do you feel you two match up on the ground?
I don’t know a whole lot about the well roundedness of Ronda Rousey’s ground game. I know she has good submissions. I do believe for the most part judo people are taught to throw and go for the quick submissions, which leads me to believe there will be a lot of room for error in her transitions and everything in between because there is so much more to mixed martial arts than just throwing someone and going for the submission. When you add my high skill level of ground game in there, I don’t see that being possible for her. If she wants to submit me, she’s going to have to really work and it’s going to take more than one good move. It’s going to be a lot of setups and transitions and I think I have the better scrambling ability. I think I have the better hips on the ground and I’m not real confident she’ll be able to go out there and just throw me into a submission.
Do you think it’s a major disadvantage having next to no tape available on Ronda Rousey?
Well there’s enough out there to know what her bread and butter is. The thing about me is that I like to prepare myself to be the best fighter. I think a lot of her former fighters (opponents) knew that “okay this is what she’s good at, I’m going to prepare to defend, defend, defend.’ The problem with that is when you’re preparing for what someone else is going to do, you might be spending too much time on that and then you’re not training to do what you want to do. The whole point of fighting is to go out there and establish your dominance. If you’re training to be defensive your entire training camp and you’re so focused on that, then I think there’s something wrong with that. I don’t want to make that mistake. Yeah, I’m going to train my arm bar defence and yeah I’m going to train my stance to not get thrown but I want to spend more time training what I’m going to do. I’m training to be proactive not reactive and that’s kind of my mentality in this whole training camp.
Ronda Rousey has had a lot of choice words for you and the other women in Strikeforce. How closely have you followed what she says on Twitter and in interviews?
I haven’t really watched or listened to any of her interviews. It does come through to me on Twitter. A lot of fans will quote things or forward things that she has done or said. It’s just annoying more than anything. She just sounds so stupid and childish and ignorant. To be quite honest, I think she’s delusional. She’s made a comment, twice now, about seriously thinking she could compete with my boyfriend Bryan Caraway who fights in the UFC and is a very talented fighter both on the ground and on the feet. It’s just so ridiculous that she would say something like that, it discredits anything she would say from here on out. If she thinks she can beat my boyfriend, it’s just retarded. He would knock her head off her block and choke her out so quick, it’s not even funny. I know I have world class grappling and he can pretty much do whatever he wants to me. It’s the difference between a guy a girl, you know? It’s just so silly. It’s silly to me. I can’t find any value in anything that she says from here on out because I don’t think she has any basis or any reality to it basically. She’s just delusional.
Have you taken anything she said personally?
Yeah, some of the stuff. It really started to rub me the wrong way when she started talking about how she wanted this many more fights before she fought ‘Cyborg’ but she would be happy to drop down to 135lb. right there and then and ‘slap that title out of my hands.’ That was just really disrespectful in my opinion. Some people like the drama, some people like the smack talk. I think Ronda is one of the people that smack talks just to smack talks. I don’t think it’s how she really feels but she only tries to sell the fight. I think it’s kind of a WWE approach. I personally like to keep the sport more real because I have a lot of respect for the sport. I love this sport. When I say something it’s not because I’m saying it just to say it. I say it because I mean it. When I say I’m going to try and knock her on her ass, I really mean that. Whatever else I said, I mean. I don’t say it just to try and get attention. After Ronda’s 10 seconds of fame is over on March 3, hopefully that’s a reality check and a little humbling for her because I think her ego is just way too big.
Despite never facing world class competition, some are hailing Ronda Rousey as the new face of women’s mixed martial arts. As world champion, how does that make you feel?
I think the people that are so quick to jump on Ronda’s bandwagon are not necessarily the true or more educated fans. Anyone can see that there’s so many things that haven’t been exposed about her and so many things in question. Her coming into the scene with such a brash sense of the way she likes to market things is whatever. I personally like a more humble approach. For her to be the new face of MMA, she still has a lot to prove for people to even consider that. Let’s see what she can do March 3. If it goes the way I think it’s going to go, she’ll basically be just a flash in the pan.
You likely have more striking experience than her. Is this something you plan to exploit in the fight?
Absolutely, I think I have a lot of experience period. Not just striking but everything together. I’ve been working hard on this sport for a long time. I’ve been fighting for six years. Mixing it up and putting it all together and being able to transition and throw strikes on the ground as well as on the feet, I think will make a big difference. I have to think she’s not going to like it. She’s going to go out there and try and finish the fight quick but when that doesn’t happen, then what? I know I have a big heart for this sport. She was the one to say that the Olympics meant so much to her and that this would be a close second to win this title. Well this title is everything to me and it obviously means a lot more to me than it does to her if she’s saying it’s going to be second rate to anything. I know I’m going to go out there and fight a lot harder for it period, especially not to her.
The fight is five rounds; do you think that’s something that favours you?
Yeah, actually I do. I think the longer it goes the more it favours me. I think I’m the more mentally tough fighter and I think a lot of times that’s what it comes down to, not who is physically stronger of better. A lot of times when you’re fighting five five-minute rounds with two highly skilled athletes it comes down to who breaks first. I will never break, I know that. I have a lot of doubt about Ronda and whether she will and how bad she really wants this. I think this is all fun and games to her but it’s not to me. This is my whole life, my livelihood, my passion, my ambition. I have so much more invested in this than she has. There’s no way I’m going to give up in any way, shape, or form.