Miesha Tate is looking at this Saturday’s fight against Ketlen Vieira as a chance to launch herself back in title contention.
Five years after announcing an early MMA retirement, Tate returned to the cage this past summer and defeated Marion Reneau. Now ranked eighth in UFC’s women’s bantamweight division, Tate (19–7) seeks to win this fight against seventh-ranked Vieira (11–2) in a fashion so convincing that she is then able to challenge bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes. Tate lost to Nunes by submission five years ago at UFC 200, but she is hungry for a second opportunity.
Speaking with Sports Illustrated, Tate discussed the challenges that Vieira poses, why she would match up well against Nunes in a rematch, and the similarities between Nunes and Ronda Rousey, another former opponent.
Sports Illustrated: How has your training camp prepared you for Ketlen Vieira?
Miesha Tate: We’re just rolling with momentum built off the last training camp. It’s a big difference as opposed to last camp, which was coming off a near five-year layoff. We didn’t change a lot, except I put on more muscle for this camp.
SI: Vieira has victories against Sijara Eubanks and Cat Zingano, who defeated you and is also the last fighter to defeat Amanda Nunes. What do you respect most about Vieira?
MT: I respect her sacrifice. She’s made a lot of sacrifices to be here. I know she really wants to be here and she really wants this, but there is also a lot of pressure on her shoulders. I feel like she needs to be here for this fight, as opposed to wanting to be here. I want to be here. I don’t have any pressure on me, but I recognize the pressure she is facing.
SI: If you are able to produce a convincing win, do you think that will ensure you a rematch against Nunes?
MT: It puts me in title talks, absolutely.
SI: Do you see any similarities between Ronda Rousey, who you fought twice, and Nunes?
MT: I can’t say that I see many similarities between Ronda and Amanda, except that they’re both exceptional athletes. They’ve both definitely led a charge for women’s MMA, but stylistically, they’re very different.
SI: You are well-aware of Amanda’s dominance. Why would a second fight against her go differently than it did the first time?
MT: Everything is different. The only thing that is the same is my toughness and desire to win. Everything else is completely different. I’ve resolved some serious issues in my personal life. I’ve become a mother. I’m fighting because I want to. These are my goals and dreams, but life is bigger than me. I also fight for my family. And I have a great team around me. Before, I didn’t understand the best way to do a lot of these things. I always thought harder was better, that more was better. But now I understand that smarter is better. I’m always focused on the best version of myself, and I know nobody can work harder than me.
SI: What should fight fans expect to see in your fight on Saturday?
MT: Fans are going to see an evolutionary Miesha Tate. ‘Tate 2.0’ isn’t a slogan or a campaign, it’s a reality.
People still cannot wrap their heads around the transformation I’ve made, so this is the proper progression for me to show that. Last fight was a homecoming party back to the UFC. Now it’s time to plant some roots.
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