UFC Vegas 31: Tate eyes UFC title in comeback, but refuses to rush ahead of Reneau matchup

Thrust into her first UFC fight week for almost five years, Miesha Tate was unequivocal about being where she belongs after retiring. The former women’s bantamweight champion praised upcoming opponent Marion Reneau but also hopes this weekend ultimately proves the important first step en route to achieving gold once more in future as her comeback trail starts.

Tate’s second title tilt starts this weekend

Tate turns 35 next month and had no problem making weight yesterday
Tate’s Octagon return is in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 31 and despite knowing Reneau will retire regardless of this weekend’s result, she knows it’ll be a tough challenge.

She can’t afford to look past the veteran, though didn’t hesistate to outline plans – short, medium and long-term – during Wednesday’s media day at the Apex.

As quoted by MMAjunkie, the 34-year-old:

“It’s like that old friend that you haven’t talked to in years, and you call him up and haven’t skipped a beat. You know, that’s how I feel, just at home with this.

It’s very natural, and I’m the happiest to be here that I’ve been in a very long time. I just want to start with Saturday, it’s very important that I get that win and don’t look too far ahead.

It’s imperative that I get this win for my trajectory, it’s not unrealistic to say if I have the performances I’m planning on having, it could be as little as three fights until I’m back into a title shot.”

She departed the sport, retiring after a 2016 loss to Raquel Pennington. That was her subsequent fight after being dethroned by Amanda Nunes and came as a surprise, despite Dana White’s comments earlier that year in addition to a potentially quicker route to a title rematch.

However, Cupcake lacked the desire to continue and MMA isn’t something that can be done in cruise control – especially at the highest level. After saying it was “the future’s time” in her post-fight interview with Joe Rogan following the Pennington loss, an article on Bleacher Report said:

“That may or may not prove true with time. Plenty of fighters have retired, only to get back into the cage after a lengthy vacation. Either way, the women’s bantamweight division is lesser now than it was a day ago.

While Tate was never spectacularly gifted or an athletic fighter, her savvy and grit made her one of the sport’s most enduring fighters. She will be missed.”

Looking back, and now forward

Tate answers questions from the media, addressing reasons for her comeback pre-UFC 260
Describing it as “detangling the knot”, she spoke candidly about dealing with struggles at the time and how things have since changed for the better.

“I just had too much on my plate, baggage that I just really didn’t need. That was just a really rough time for me, but to be honest, when I have taken this four years away and I look at it, I am more in love with the sport than I have ever been.”

Having given birth to two children in the meantime, while keeping herself occupied with various other business ventures, it’s refreshing to see the desire has returned on paper. How will it be in practice? We’ll have to wait and see.

After all, the bulk of the UFC’s best WMMA contenders (and champions!) are 30 or older including top-ranked bantamweights Germaine de Randamie (#1, 37yo) and Holly Holm (#2, 39yo) as well as dominant two-weight titlist Nunes (33yo).

Reneau (9-7-1 MMA, 5-6-1 UFC) will finish her career with a neutral promotional record should she win and doesn’t want to end her 11-year journey with five successive defeats.

Despite a losing run that doesn’t spell danger, Tate refused to believe she’ll face a tired, weakened Reneau and instead praised the 44-year-old’s earlier submission wins over Sara McMann and former strawweight titlist Jessica Andrade.

In addition, the retiree will have added motivation between rounds in the corner from her 19-year-old son.

“I think Marion is great, very solid without a lot of holes in her game – a black belt in jiu-jitsu and I really admire her. She stays in fights: you know, the fights she has lost have always been very close, lost a number of split decisions.

Been on the verge of being a contender a number of times, and just didn’t get her break, but the way I look at this fight is a mother who’s going to have her son in the corner for the first time, who’s going to look at somebody that matters between rounds and say, ‘I don’t want to let that person down’.

It’s going to charge her, and she’s going to come and bring it.”

Reneau meanwhile, nicknamed the Belizean Bruiser, isn’t going to hold back and has certainly learned a lot from her defeats over the years. Will she end on a high this weekend?

Next UFC event: Makhachev-Moises prelims start live from midnight (UK time)

Picture source: Getty Images

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