PHOENIX - AUGUST 13: Miesha Tate celebrates after defeating Hitomi Akano of Japan in the Strikeforce Women's Welterweight Tournament Championship bout at Dodge Theater on August 13 2010 in Phoenix Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Miesha Tate has had a lot on her mind in the past five months.
The bout was a thriller, but Tate got caught in a patented Rousey armbar and didn't tap until the damage had been done. Her arm had suffered severe ligament and soft tissue damage.
After some grueling physical therapy, Tate's recovery has been incredible. Not only is she back, she is back just as quickly as the woman who defeated her for the belt. Tate will be competing this Saturday night against veteran Julie Kedzie in the final bout of the Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman preliminary card on Showtime Extreme.
Formerly known as "Takedown," Tate spoke with MMAmania.com about the mental changes she's gone through heading into this bout, having less pressure and attention on her and what it will be like to watch the woman who defeated her fight for her former title in part one of this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You were up training at elevation this past week. Can you talk about where you were finishing up your camp and how you think it'll help your upcoming fight against Julie Kedzie this Saturday?
Miesha Tate: It's called Rimrock Lake and it was up towards White Pass in Washington State and it was about 3000 feet above sea level. I wanted to go up there and have a getaway. We camped out for the weekend. We still wanted to eat healthy and clean of course, and I definitely noticed the elevation while running. It felt like when you were taking a full breath of air, you weren't getting a full breath of air. That pushed me a little bit on that level and it was nice. Also, not having a cell phone was nice. It was really serene and relaxing with the swimming. It felt good to disconnect and refocus my mind, do some mitt work and high elevation training to kick off my last big workouts before we head to San Diego on Tuesday.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Is that something you normally do or was it a change of pace?
Miesha Tate: No, I don't normally do that but it just kind of came together and I had an opportunity to do that. Someone in the camp was going to get a camping trip so I thought I'd go up there and take advantage of the elevation and make a training trip out of it. It was great.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Be honest, how difficult was it being away from the phone for even a day?
Miesha Tate: I'm always checking my twitter and stuff like that, but it was kind of nice not having it as a distraction. Once I put it in my mind that I was not going to have service or anything like that, I was fine with it. If I knew I had service and I somehow couldn't get to my phone, that would have bothered me. Instead, I knew I wouldn't so I just turned my phone off and enjoyed the weekend.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Heading into this upcoming fight, it's a remarkable shift for you in terms of attention and everything. It's a lot more low key heading into this fight, a lot less eyes on you, much more low-key. What's the feeling like heading into this fight compared to the last one where you were a superstar?
Miesha Tate: It's very relaxed heading into this fight as opposed to the last one. I think for my comeback fight, it's nice not to have as much pressure and I can kind of ease my way back into it with the injury and everything else. It's just as step that I had to take. Not even being featured on the main card stings a little bit, but I know that after this fight, that won't be an issue any more and that's what I have to do. The loss knocked me a couple steps back but I just have to get back to the grindstone and work my way up and tell everyone that I deserve a rematch with Ronda or Sarah if she wins the title.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): This is another unique situation. You're coming back after the injury and you'll be fighting on the same night that Ronda defends her title for the first time. Is there going to be mixed feelings going out there and knowing that she's going to be trying to defend your old title?
Miesha Tate: No, I think I've gotten used to that. I've accepted it. That's what's allowed me to move on and what's allowed me to be motivated to train and recover so quickly and be on the same fight card that she's making her first defense on. I think that says something. Even though the loss was devastating, I think I was able to pick up and move on it faster than my fans have been able to. My fans and Ronda's fans, that's the last thing that they really remember. They haven't seen how hard I've been training and how well everything's going and how much I'm really looking forward to this fight and I'm excited to show people that I'm still here.
I didn't go anywhere. She didn't destroy me. She didn't stop me. She just motivated me in a sense. That's what I'm looking for in this fight. That's the message I want to send and it's kind of cool that I didn't really skip a beat. I'm coming back at the same time as Kaufman and Ronda are. I was the one that suffered a serious injury that night but I worked my ass off to make sure I can make a timely comeback and I'm really proud of myself that I was able to do that.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You mentioned that one of the biggest changes that you've made was that you didn't want to let your emotions get involved heading into a fight again. What are some techniques or something that you're doing to make sure that doesn't happen again?
Miesha Tate: Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I think I just overall learned to let things roll off my back more, to have more fun with it. I started laughing things off. I'm just over it. What's happened has happened and what's in the past is in the past. I'm not gonna sweat the small stuff anymore. I'm actually changing my nickname for this fight. After a lot of consideration, I wanted to embrace that I'm more than just a wrestler. My old nickname was "Takedown." That's what I did every fight and that kind of fit the whole wrestling theme because I wrestled with guys in high school and yada, yada, yada.
I graduated high school a long time ago. I'm gonna be 26 on the 18th, that's my birthday. I've been in mixed martial arts a lot longer than I've been wrestling for and I've evolved as a fighter and I also feel like I've learned a lot more about myself as a person, especially this last fight. I've learned to just have more fun with things, not take things too seriously and make it something that I don't enjoy. I've always been open with other fighters. Sometimes they get anxiety or stress or we end up making it something we don't enjoy because we let the negative consume us. I don't want to make it stressful and not fun anymore.
I'm changing my nickname to "Cupcake," so it's gonna be Miesha "Cupcake" Tate and it also goes along with being a baking and cupcake connoisseur. (laughs) I just want to have a fun nickname, have a fun mentality again. There's no animosity with Julie Kedzie and if the time comes to fight Ronda again, I'll have a completely different outlook on how to handle that situation. If you can't tell, some of the things I've said to her on Twitter have been in good fun. It's not such a serious thing anymore or something that makes me angry. I just laugh at it.
You can follow Miesha on Twitter @MieshaTate.
Stay tuned for part two of our interview tomorrow where Tate talks her biggest fears, being tired of questions about her arm and how she visualizes success against Julie Kezie.