When examining the future of women’s Mixed Martial Arts it is impossible to exclude Miesha Tate from the conversation. Barely a week removed from her 23rd birthday, she currently sports a record of 6-2 with both losses coming in less-than ideal situations. In addition to possessing the ability to both submit her foes and render them unconscious, the native of Tacoma, Washington also has the potential to break hearts along with jaws each time she enters the ring due to her more-than marketable look.
Tate recently sat down with FiveOuncesOfPain.com to discuss, amongst other things, her beginnings in Mixed Martial Arts, how she feels she’s evolved as a fighter, where she sees herself going in the sport, who she might like to step into the cage with, her opinion on five-minute rounds, and a hobby or two that could surprise fans who have her pegged as being little more than a girl who likes to beat people up.
FiveOuncesOfPain: My understanding is that you were a successful high school wrestler in Washington. How did you first become interested in grappling? Were you always athletic while growing up?
Miesha Tate: I was always climbing trees and onto rooftops as a kid. Most of my friends were boys and I loved playing tag and wrestling around even then. I joined the wrestling team in High School and got into grappling my first year of college simply because I thought I would enjoy it.
FiveOuncesOfPain: What inspired you to enter the realm of Mixed Martial Arts? As a wrestler, were you concerned about the striking aspect of the sport (and the potential of getting hit) or was the physicality involved never a major concern?
Miesha Tate: After wrestling I started learning how to grapple and I didn’t want to fight because I didn’t think I would cope well with getting punched in the face, but one thing led to another and before I knew it I has signed up for my first fight. The striking added a whole new element for me but I very much enjoyed it and still do.
FiveOuncesOfPain: You’ve only been fighting professionally since November 2007. What do you remember about your first bout? How does it compare to the way you feel now before entering a ring?
Miesha Tate: My first bout was nerve-racking, especially going up against Jan Finney who at the time was far more experienced and known as the hardest hitting woman in MMA. I remember feeling anxious and it was also a very hard weight cut for me to make 135 lbs back then so I was worried about gassing out but we went into an overtime round and I made it winning by a decision.
FiveOuncesOfPain: Things didn’t go as planned in your second fight which coincidentally came against Kaitlin Young later that very evening. How difficult was it dealing with the tournament format as such a newcomer to the sport? Have you ever been approached with a rematch against Young and how much would you like to avenge that loss if given the chance?
Miesha Tate: I haven’t been approached with a rematch opportunity but it is definitely something that I am planning on. The loss was hard to swallow because I really thought if I could beat Jan I would win the tournament. Well, it’s MMA and (it) goes to show anything can happen. I was very tired going into the second bout with Kaitlin and she was able to capitalize on me, but I learned so much about myself due to that loss that in the end it made me a far better fighter, so long as I get a shot to avenge my loss I will be totally satisfied.
FiveOuncesOfPain: You put together four finishing performances in five straight wins after starting off with a 1-1 record. How far do you feel you’ve come as a fighter in the less-than two years since you debuted?
Miesha Tate: I feel like I am different from when I first started. I’ve learned so much it’s really a night and day difference in the fighter I am now vs. two years ago. I’ve learned to be much more aggressive and push the pace; I’m stronger, faster, smarter and more dedicated with each passing day.
FiveOuncesOfPain: In your last match you ended up facing the Sarah Kaufman, a 10-0 fighter who acted as a late replacement for Kim Couture this past May. Given the difference in talent/experience between Kaufman and Couture, plus having less than two weeks’ notice of the change, did you ever consider pulling out of the fight?
Miesha Tate: Yes, I heavily considered calling the fight off because I didn’t feel 100% confident (that) I was mentally and emotionally ready for that battle, but I weighed out my options and I came out wanting the fight more than not. I didn’t want to let my fans down and I decided I can’t win if I don’t fight, so I fought and left it all out there. The fight was close in my opinion despite my lack of confidence and now that I realize I am better than I was giving myself credit I have found an inner strength and confidence I believe that will carry me to the next level in MMA.
FiveOuncesOfPain: How would you assess your performance considering the circumstances? How would things have gone differently if you’d had proper time to prepare for Kaufman? Did you feel you had done enough to win the decision after the takedowns and ground/pound you delivered?
Miesha Tate: I think my performance was pretty good. (It) definitely could have been better but now I know that – then I didn’t. With more preparation time I think the fight could have easily gone my way but I do believe I lost the decision. I agree with the judges but I think it was very close. The first round could have gone either way. I think the five minute rounds would have made the biggest difference in me winning the fight.
FiveOuncesOfPain: Speaking of which, what’s your position on three-minute vs. five-minute rounds? Do you prefer one or the other?
Miesha Tate: Yes, five minute rounds work to my favor. Three minutes is such a short time to do anything worthwhile. I’m definitely for the five minute rounds.
FiveOuncesOfPain: Do you have any potential opponents lined up for future bouts? Is there anyone in particular you’d like to fight?
Miesha Tate: Any female signed with Strikeforce at 135lbs is a potential opponent for me!! As for particulars, I’d like to rematch Kaitlin Young, I’d like to fight Tara LaRosa, and when Strikeforce creates a women’s 135lbs title belt I would like to fight Kaufman again for the title.
FiveOuncesOfPain: You may be a professional Mixed Martial Artist with eight bouts under her belt but at the end of the day you’re also a 23-year old woman. What do you do for fun when you aren’t training? Is there anything “girly” you’re into that might surprise fight-fans who typically envision you pummeling opponents?
Miesha Tate: I love to cook. I actually just got done making dinner and I love baking too. I also decorate cakes for fun. I enjoy reading in my down time and I watch a lot of movies. I like being outdoors when I can too – camping, boating, fishing – you name it!
FiveOuncesOfPain: I appreciate the time. Before wrapping things up, are there any sponsors you’d like to thank or friends/family/training partners you want to give a shout out to?
Miesha Tate: God for giving me the ability to do what I do. My family for loving and supporting me, my friends for being there for me. My boyfriend for his support. My coach and training partners for pushing me and helping me push through those rough practices. My sponsors Tussle (Slade and Molly I love you guys!!), Fight University, Caged Steel, Fight Chix and Cage Candy!