New mindset: Strikeforce bantamweight Miesha Tate interview exclusive with MMAmania.com (Part two)

Pictured: Miesha Tate. Photo by Esther Lin via MMA Fighting

Sometimes, after going through great adversity, one comes back even stronger than ever.

That's what former Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion Miesha Tate is hoping to do.

Tate had her title forcefully ripped out of her clutches by current division kingpin Ronda Rousey earlier this year in Columbus, Ohio when she was caught in an armbar from the Judo Olympian and waited too long to tap, suffering major soft tissue damage.

She's made some big changes, going back to her original gym in Washington state, changing her nickname from "Takedown" to "Cupcake" and more importantly, she's vowed to never again be emotionally compromised heading into a fight like she did against Rousey the last time.

Tate will be taking on Julie Kedzie this Saturday night (August 18, 2012) on the preliminary card of Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman and in part one of her interview posted yesterday, she discussed training at elevation and having less attention focused on her. Today, she talks about Kedzie, her biggest fears and why visualization is so important to her in the final chapter of our exclusive interview.

Check it out:

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): In my preparation for this interview, I listened to and read a wide range of prior interviews and I think at one point in every single one, someone asked about your arm and the armbar. How tired are you of talking about your arm?

Miesha Tate: It gets tedious, I'm not gonna lie. A lot of people, that's one of the main two questions I get asked: "How's your arm and when's your next fight? How's your arm? When's your next fight? How's your arm? When's your next fight?" It's like, that's what Google's for, you know?

Seriously though, it's expected and I know that a lot of people want to know. It's nice to know that people care enough to ask so I guess I can't complain. One of my biggest pet peeves is being asked the same question over and over again. It's not anyone's fault, but it does kind of annoy me to be honest.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's talk about your upcoming fight. You're facing Julie Kedzie, who's been around a little longer than than you and she's faced a laundry list of the best female fighters out there. You've said that you think you're better than her in just about everything. What does that make you want to do when you get in the cage? Do you want to utilize something new you've been working on or would you rather respond to the flow of the fight?

Miesha Tate: I just want to come back with a vengeance. My ideal is just to make a statement and get people talking, "Not only is she back, but she's back powerfully. She's stronger than ever. This wasn't a setback for her, this was a comeback." That's what I really want. I don't really have a strong gameplan where in order to win the fight, I have to do "this" or "that." I kind of think I can win the fight in every area.

We studied and I know where my strengths and weaknesses match up with her and like I said, I feel pretty confident and pretty strong in every area. I would like to end the fight with strikes. However that may be, I'd like that. that's what I'm going for in regards to making an impression. But if the submission or anything else is there, I won't hesitate to take that.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I don't think she's ever been stopped by strikes, even though she's stepped in there against some pretty devastating strikers like Gina Carano and Kaitlin Young. That would be a pretty big feather in your cap if you could pull it off.

Miesha Tate: I kind of see the fight, I envision myself winning via TKO. That's what I would like to do the most. The thing about Julie is, she's a really hard girl to finish. She's been doing this long enough and she's been training really long and fighting longer than I have. Win, lose, or draw, she makes it to the end of the third round. She's got a lot of decision wins and some decision losses. She's got a reputation for that. She's like the Energizer bunny or a juggernaut. She knows how to hang in there. Being able to finish Julie I think would make a statement in itself.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Also with her having several decision wins, that makes her not quite as dangerous in terms of a threat of a finish against you. Do you think that opens the door for you to take a few more risks?

Miesha Tate: I do. When I think about Julie Kedzie, I don't feel threatened that she'll be able to finish me. Anything can happen, but I don't see it happening. I don't see Julie being able to come out there and knock me out. I don't see her outgrappling me and I don't see her having better wrestling than I do. I don't think she's even going to want to take me down.

I think she's gonna try to point farm me like a lot of the Jackson's guys having been doing lately. Especially with our style match-up, it's probably what she's gonna do, stick and move, stick and move and look for the decision win. I have to be prepared for anything, but I'm prepared to push the pace. I don't want to win a decision. I'm looking for a finish.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you have any concerns that that because you're on the undercard, that even if you have an exciting finish, it would not get as much exposure to get that title shot again?

Miesha Tate: Well, I think fortunately with the fanpower that I have to this point, and the honest assessment is I won't get as much exposure as I would on Showtime but the people that matter will be watching. I know that Dana White will be watching and I know that Sean Shelby, the matchmaker, will be watching and I know that my fans will be watching.

I have a lot of fans and I have a lot of people that really support me and no matter what happens, the footage will be on YouTube, it's gonna get out there and it's gonna be talked about because my goal is to go out there and steal the show. I want to have a better fight than Ronda and Sarah do. That's my goal. I'm gonna do the best that I can with the following and the viewership that I have.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): There's been some rumblings that Cyborg Santos could get the next title shot since she's potentially allowed to come back in December. Would that bum you out if they chose her over you if you go out there and do a good job.

Miesha Tate: Yeah, I think so. It would probably bother me because I think that in our first fight, call me crazy, but if you follow the sport of mixed martial arts, the techniques that were happening when me and Ronda were fighting, it was very back-and-forth. It was very competitive and I think I'm the only person to have ever escaped an armbar attempt of hers. I obviously have the skills to hang with her on the ground and I have the advantage on the feet so it wasn't a one-sided match by any means in my opinion.

I got caught in an armbar and I lost, but up until that point, it was really competitive and had I not got armbarred at the end of that round, it may have been a debate about who won the round and we'd have gone on to the next round. It wasn't like she just went out there and creamed me. For the future, I think a rematch would be warrented.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I've got a few last questions about getting to know you better. Being a fighter brings a reputation of being very tough, but is there anything that frightens you?

Miesha Tate: I'm definitely scared of needles, although I've made huge progress on my fear of them. I used to be very, very, very, very afraid of needles. I couldn't be near them, couldn't stand them, they used to freak me out, but getting my bloodwork done all the time has helped me start to get over that. Perhaps it was a "face my fears" kind of thing.

Another thing I'd be freaked out about a bit is bees. I can't stand bees. If bees come around me, I'm just out of there. I'm like, "Hell no, either the bee or me is going down." I don't like bees at all.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): So what helped you get over the fear of needles? Was it a meditation technique or someone supporting you?

Miesha Tate: I really had to talk to myself and tell myself how stupid it was. It's funny. The mind is a very powerful thing and I think that's what's determined a lot of my success, a strong mentality. I think I'm pretty strong-headed and I try to always keep a positive outlook and whatnot so I basically self-helped myself over my fear of needles. It's not that bad. Every time I get a shot or get bloodwork done, it never hurts as bad as I'm picturing it in my mind. I had to realize, what is it that was so scary? I convinced myself that it's not that bad and I've done it before.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Speaking of that mentality, I know you're a very big fan of visualization. When you're vizualizing success against Julie Kedzie, what do you see?

Miesha Tate: Oh yeah, I'm a huge advocate of visualization. I think it's very important. Every time I fight, I feel like I've already been in that situation hundreds to even thousands of times in my mind. It helps to be even more familiar when you're walking out to the cage and you get in the cage and you see them across from the cage, it's not like it's the first time you've been there or experienced it.

I visualize it so vividly in my mind that it helps me cope with any pre-fight anxiety. It helps me get over that. I envision just me being the aggressor and maybe getting punched but just walking through it, stepping forward, pushing the pace and forcing her to feel uncomfortable, hitting her with really hard shots, getting her to cover up, taking her down and a ground and pound finish or a rear naked choke. I see getting my hand raised and the feeling of success and joy and how good that feeling is in itself, working for that. That's what I picture in my mind over and over again.

Miesha would like to thank her home gym Yakima Mixed Martial Arts, Rich Guerin and Julie Guerin. She'd like to thank Bryan Caraway, her family, her friends, her fans. She'd also like to thank Toyo Tires, VSGInc.org and Training Mask. You can follow Miesha on Twitter @MieshaTate.

So what do you think, Maniacs?

Will Tate make the statement she desires this Saturday night against Julie Kedzie? Is there any way she can earn a title shot with an impressive performance?

Sound off!

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