Miesha Tate is hoping that her return to fighting leads to another surge in UFC’s women’s bantamweight division. After all, her last pass through the roster led to a 135-pound title back in 2016.
Tate, who ended her five-year retirement late last month, will make her return to the Octagon against Marion Reneau this July. It will be a massive opportunity for Tate to prove she’s still one of the best fighters in the world, despite not competing since a decision loss to Raquel Pennington in Nov. 2016.
Tate, who is still just 34 years of age, was more or less forced away from the sport when she retired so many years ago. There were too many obstacles to overcome in her personal life in order to continue her UFC career. With all of those things now worked out “Cupcake” is free to resume her fighting ways without any distractions.
“I was really burnt out,” Tate told MMA Fighting after announcing her return to fighting. “I was kind of in a dark place to be honest the latter part of my career.
“A lot of the things in my personal life really caught up to me. There’s only so much somebody can take and so I just needed to step away so I could regroup.”
Tate’s last Octagon appearance came against the aforementioned Pennington. It was the final straw that broke the camel’s back and forced Tate to re-evaluate her UFC career and overall mental health. She eventually retired, but it allowed the veteran fighter to assess her value outside of just being a fighter.
“I mean mental health is no joke,” Tate said. “To be in a place of depression — depression is something that can consume every piece of you and sometimes you feel like there’s no way out of it. I think it’s important, or at least it was for me, to be brutally honest with myself and really address and soul search. After that fight, I went on a road trip. I just took time for myself to answer questions. Why was I feeling this way? Where was my head? How could I make it better? That’s really what I needed time to do. I needed time to self-reflect. I needed time to regroup. I needed time to make myself whole again and happy in life.
“That was kind of a scary moment because I don’t know what else I was besides a fighter. That’s also scary. I feel like some people hold on too long to their careers because it’s all we know. That’s it.”
Despite the fact that most retired fighters come back to score a big payday Tate is not here to make bank. It helps to get paid to do what she loves, but “Cupcake” is giving up a cushy job with ONE Championship to make her return to UFC. Her comeback is for everything expect financial security.
“When I’m making this comeback, I’m not doing it because I have no other options,” Tate said. “I’m not doing it because I’m hurting for money. In fact, I’m walking away from a six-figure job to fight and probably going to have to win three fights to make more than I would with my job at ONE Championship. Win three fights.
“So it’s never been about that. It’s never been about money for me. That’s not the No. 1 motivating factor. Yeah, I’d be lying if I said money’s not great. Nobody doesn’t like money. That certainly sweetens the pot. I have a family now, too, so I want to provide for my family and do all the great things but those are not my driving factors.”
With money being a non-factor Tate is ready to hit the ground running and capitalize on her chance to fight her way back to a title shot. Tate already lost to current UFC women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes back in 2016. She’s hoping her second stint in UFC will lead to a rematch with “Lioness,” who has become an unstoppable force since winning the title off Tate.
“My driving factors are again boiling this down to basics,” Tate said. “When I first started doing this, this was not the cool thing to do. Women’s MMA was not cool. It was frowned upon. We made little to no money, pennies on the dollar, fighting for breadcrumbs but when you love something, you can’t put a price on that.
“That’s where I’m at. I feel time is of the essence and now is the time for me to come back and show what I’m really capable of. I feel like there was so much I left on the table when I walked away. So much I left on the table but I needed to do that. I needed to answer those questions. I needed to get out of that awful head space. I think I’ve done that and that’s why I’m here and I’m ready to make that comeback. I’m ready to make that second surge at my career.”
What say you, Maniacs? Can Tate fight her way back to another UFC title shot?
Let’s hear it!