Even after a retirement that lasted more than four years, Miesha Tate appeared to be in peak form at UFC on ESPN 26.
The former UFC and Strikeforce bantamweight champion blended her striking and takedowns effectively en route to a third-round technical knockout victory against Marion Reneau in Saturday’s co-main event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. While it was just the beginning of Tate’s comeback tour, it was a farewell for Reneau.
“I think she brought everything she had. I believe this was the fight she wanted, she was exactly where she wanted to be, she knew this was her Super Bowl, this was the fight she wanted to leave it all in the Octagon, and I believe she did that,” Tate said. “I’m excited to go back, watch the fight, learn from it and move forward.
“I’m a huge fan of Marion, she is just an inspiration as a woman and as a person. She is a teacher, she is a mother, she gives back to her community… It takes a good dance partner out there to really bring the best tools and skillset for me,” Tate continued. “I’m grateful she took this fight, grateful she prepared her best, and I’m excited to see it. I want to know how I looked because I was in there. I can’t wait to go home, watch and learn.”
Tate exited the sport after a loss to Raquel Pennington at UFC 205 in November 2016. “Cupcake” was one of the biggest female stars in the sport, thanks in part to a rivalry with Ronda Rousey that brought women to the forefront in MMA. Saturday’s performance reaffirmed that she made the right decision to return to the Octagon.
“This is why I couldn’t stay retired – I felt like I had so much more to give, and there’s truly a better version of myself,” Tate said. “I didn’t want to leave thinking I didn’t put my best foot forward.”
During her first UFC stint, Tate enjoyed a brief reign as 135-pound queen after rallying to submit Holly Holm in the fifth round of their bout at UFC 196. On Saturday, Holm indicated that she would be interested in a rematch with Tate.
“You can dominate a fight and it can still slip through your fingers in the last remaining minutes,” Holm wrote on Instagram. “I’d love to get the chance to redeem that loss. You want to see it too? Holm vs Tate 2?”
Tate expected to receive her fair share of callouts upon coming out of retirement. She’s open to taking on all comers, Holm included.
“They’re all fair game; they can all get it, respectfully,” Tate said. “I expect them to come out of the woodwork. I think a second fight with Holly, it’d be great.
“There’s a lot of women in the division, so name them all. I don’t know where I’ll come in the rankings right now, but you know I’m never one to say I deserve this or that. I understand I have to continue to climb. But whoever’s name is on that list to get to the top, that’s fine with me, and I’m sure Holly and I, I have no doubt about it, her and I will fight again.”
Tate’s ultimate goal is to return to the top of the division. She believes another fight before the end of the year seem s like a reasonable goal, but she won’t accept anything that doesn’t help move her closer to the title.
“I’m just going to do what’s right for me,” Tate said. “This is the first time I can say in my life that I’m the CEO. There is nobody else making decisions. Everybody that’s around me is here to support what I want, my dreams and my goals. So if it feels right, we’ll do it but I’m not in a rush. I want to make the most.
“When I do fight for the title, whoever that may be, it will be the right time and we’ll make sure that we’re ready. We’re not going to rush anything but we won’t miss any opportunities either.”