In less than two weeks, we will be treated to another great women's MMA match-up inside the octagon. Miesha Tate, known for being the toughest cupcake this side of the equator, plans to give "Alpha" Cat Zingano a bit of a rude welcoming party in the second women's bout in the UFC.
With much of the weight of the success of WMMA having been placed with bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, Miesha feels that she's ready to lighten the burden and share in the responsibilities of marketing the ladies. I recently interviewed Miesha, to get thoughts on her upcoming fight, training and possibly relocating, and the responsibilities of being one of the new faces to bring WMMA into the mainstream.
Stephie Daniels: You've already fought on a pretty big stage and even headlined an event with Strikeforce. Do you think it will end up being a whole different experience when you step into the octagon for the first time?
Miesha Tate: I don't think so. I've envisioned it for a really long time. I've been there a thousand times in my mind. I'm very big on visualization, and it's one of the most important parts of my training camp. Although a lot goes into a camp physically, a huge part of fighting is mental, and being really grounded and focused. I've already been in the octagon thousands of times, like I said, and I've visualized the fight.
I've fought for Strikeforce and headlined a card before. I've experienced that pressure and had the media and cameras in my face. I've had the bright lights and big crowds. It's probably just going to be a little bit bigger. I don't think it's going to be anything new, though.
SD: Do you think that the pressure leading into the fight might be a little more than when you were with Strikeforce?
MT: I felt like I had the most pressure probably when I fought Ronda, because I put so much pressure on myself. I was really emotional for that fight. I kind of re-analyzed that, saw where my mistakes were and really tried to better myself as a fighter.
I took some time off after the Julie Kedzie fight to reinvent myself, and rediscover my fire and my passion for MMA, but really, what it comes down to is that I'm used to it all. It's something I've been very fortunate with in my career, being able to gradually get used to it all.
I think for Cat, it's going to be quite a big shock because she's never been on a big card, she's never fought for Strikeforce, so that will probably be a big adjustment for her. I noticed when we did the publicity stuff for UFC 157, she was a little uncomfortable with the cameras and the interviews. She was nervouse and it was new to her. She seemed excited about it in a very, 'Oh my gosh, I don't know what to do with myself' kind of way.
That can definitely be seen as somewhat of a weakness, but I'm not counting on it. I think once the cage door closes and we're focused on each other, all the rest of that is going to go out the window and you're just goping to see two fighters leave everything they have on the line. It's not the UFC anymore, it's just us at that moment, fighting for that victory.
SD: A lot of people like to say 'I like to put on a good show', but it's a notion that often flies out the window in the face of adversity in the cage. Survival mode for one person can mean swinging for the fences, while for another it can mean maintaining top control and getting takedowns. Which category do you think you fall into?
MT: I don't think that any fighter, once they get inside the cage and are fighting, actually thinks about being exciting. Everyone likes to say, 'I'm gonna go in there and put on a great performance'. Of course every fighter wants to be exciting. It's an entertainment industry and fans appreciate that kind of excitement. They want to be entertained, but it's not always possible.
Sometimes you have to be a little bit safer. Sometimes you have to do things that maybe the fans don't appreciate from an entertainment perspective, but it was the smart thing to do, and that's how you had to get the win. However,I think the best way to be exciting is to just lay it all on the line. You just have to go out there and fight to your very best, and try to do everything you can within a reasonable boundary to win the fight.
SD: With Georges St. Pierre and Nick Diaz, we saw Georges in the lead up to the fight, talking about his dark place and putting a world class beating on Diaz. Unfortunately, that didn't come to pass. What are your thoughts on that kind of hype going in, but it turning out to be a more safe, carefully measured contest?
MT: That's why I don't try to talk my fights up too much. I don't go in saying, 'Oh it's gonna be this jaw dropping performance', you know what I mean? I'm confident, and I do believe that this makes for an exciting match-up, but realistically, once you get in there and start fighting, you're just fighting. You're not thinking about being exciting or pleasing the fans. You're not thinking about doing all this crazy, tricky stuff.
I knew that Georges probably had the intention to do all the things he said, but the thing that I learned about Georges, is that he's a very disciplined fighter. He doesn't get emotional, he doesn't allow outside influences to distract him, and basically has tunnel vision and knows how to win. Then, he goes in there, and he gets the job done. He wins. That's very admirable. He may not be the most exciting, wild, Anthony "Showtime" Pettis style of fighter, but he can go in there and keep his eye on the prize the entire time. He never breaks focus, never abandons that incredible amount of discipline. He maintains it all, and he wins. From a fighter's perspective, I can definitely appreciate what he's able to go in there and do, every single time that he fights.
SD: I know you've been training out in Las Vegas for a little bit. How long have you been out and how big a difference is it from your Washington training home?
MT: My home gym is out in Yakima, Washington, and that's where I train the majority of the time, but I went for a few weeks of this camp to Phoenix, AZ to train with Benson Henderson out at the MMA Lab. That was an awesome experience, but I decided I wanted to come out here a little early, because the elevation is a little bit higher here in Las Vegas. I am aware that Cat is training at a higher elevation, so I figured it couldn't hurt.
I've been here so many times, and have a lot of great friends and training partners. Right now I'm training at Robert Drysdale's gym. His class this morning was really amazing. He didn't even realize it, but he went over some things that I wanted to make sure that I really had down pat for this fight. I was excited about that. There's definitely good synergy at that gym. I have quite a few friends training out here. I feel right at home.
SD: Do you plan on maybe relocating at some point?
MT: Actually, yeah, maybe. Bryan and I have been kind of thinking about where we want to move. I'm kind of more a warm weather person. I just love the sun. It just makes me feel good when I'm training. I feel happy and energetic. I feel like running or hiking or all those other fun, outdoor activities. Just going to the gym when it's freezing cold in Washington, it makes me just want to stay in my bed [laughs]. I would definitely like to relocate to a warmer climate, but we haven't picked anywhere yet.
SD: Where do you think that Cat will present the biggest challenge to you?
MT: She's got a wrestling base and seems to like the clinch. She uses her striking to get into the clinch. She seems like she's got a pretty powerful upper body, and is very athletic. She's a strong girl. Sometimes, when you have very strong, explosive athletes, that can backfire, because they tend to put themselves in bad situations, thinking their explosiveness will get them out of it.
I've noticed from watching tape on her, that her tendencies aren't the best ones. I feel that I'm more seasoned. I have a lot more fights than she does, and I've already fought on the big stage. I plan on being the more experienced, smarter fighter. I plan on fighting a smart fight by letting her strength work against her and her weaknesses work for me.
SD: Ronda has come out and said that she'd like to share the weight of promoting and marketing women's MMA with other female athletes. You've kind of already been carrying a fair share of that weight all along. Are you ready for that to increase following your octagon debut?
MT: Right now, I'm really doing my very best not to look past Cat Zingano. I don't really consider myself in the UFC until I get that first UFC victory. I don't even think about coaching the next season of The Ultimate Fighter because I have to get past Point A to get to Point B. I'm just trying to stay focused on Cat, and I think I'm doing a good job with that.
That being said, I love MMA. I really do. I've been doing this for six and a half years, going on seven years, and I feel like I represent the sport well. I'm passionate about it. I'm obviously very happy about being somewhat of a pioneer and a role model. I welcome that because it makes me feel good about what I'm doing both inside and outside the cage. I think I'm ready for it.
You can follow Miesha via her Twitter account @MieshaTate