This weekend, the former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion and pioneer of women’s MMA, Miesha Tate, returns to the octagon for the first time since 2016.
Miesha was one of the women who truly took women’s MMA into the mainstream, mostly through her intense rivalry with fellow WMMA pioneer Ronda Rousey.
With such a high profile and historic name returning to the sport, it’s only right to take a brief look back at her career leading up to this return and see how she matches up with her opponent Marion Reneau this weekend.
Tate began her MMA career on the independent circuit, where she achieved a 7-2 record and the Freestyle Cage Fighting Bantamweight Championship. Tate then signed full-time with Strikeforce, which, at the time, was seen as the number two promotion behind UFC. Tate would again go on to capture Bantamweight gold after defeating Marloes Coenen in July 2011.
Tate would only hold the Strikeforce title until her first defense of the said belt, where she lost it in the first fight of the previously mentioned high-profile feud with Ronda Rousey. After one more fight, a victory over Julie Kedzie, Strikeforce was absorbed into the UFC.
Tate’s UFC career did not start as well as she’d hoped. With the UFC newly forming their women’s division and building it primarily around Ronda Rousey, the promotion needed new stars to face off against Rousey. Because of the intensity surrounding their fight in Strikeforce, Tate was given a shot at Rousey’s UFC Bantamweight Championship despite her promotional debut being a loss to Cat Zingano. Tate would also lose this bout with Rousey. Still, her show of respect towards Rousey following her defeat which was subsequently ignored by the champion, and her exciting fight style turned Miesha into a fan-favorite as well showed some cracks in the façade of the champion.
Tate then went on a five-fight winning streak in the promotion, the fifth of which was a Bantamweight Championship fight against the recently crowned Holly Holm. Holm had just defeated Rousey in one of the most shocking wins of the last decade. Instead of waiting for Rousey to be ready for a rematch, Holm elected to stay active and defend her title against Tate. Despite dominating most of the fight, Holm allowed Tate to take her back and secure a nasty rear-naked choke causing the champion to pass out. Tate would also choose to stay active instead of waiting for Rousey in what would have been their trilogy fight.
Tate faced off against Amanda Nunes, which at the time, was seen as an easy opponent to bolster her title reign. Knowing what we know now, Nunes was no walk in the park and did indeed defeat Tate in that fight. Nunes has not lost her title since capturing it from Tate at UFC 200. Tate had one more fight, a losing effort against Raquel Pennington, before announcing her retirement from MMA.
Tate chose to take some time off upon retirement before working behind the scenes with ONE Championship, a Singapore-based MMA promotion. Tate was working as one of the primary match-makers for the promotion. Tate had also become a mother during her time away from the sport, giving birth to two children with her husband, Johnny Nunez. Retirement seemed to be going well for Tate, but the urge to compete was still there.
Tate announced earlier this year that she had signed a new six-fight deal with the UFC to return to active competition. Tate’s first fight back will be the co-main event this weekend against Marion Reneau. Reneau is currently ranked as the number 12 fighter in the UFC’s Bantamweight division and is on a bit of a rough stretch in her career. Reneau is 0-4 in her last four fights, with her last victory coming in 2018 against Sara McMann.
With Tate also being 10 years younger than Reneau, this should be a great fight to test her abilities. With so much time away from the sport, if Tate can clearly and definitively win this fight, we could see her make another push towards the top of the division.
If Tate loses, we will have to reevaluate her skill level at this point in her career after so much time off.
Regardless of her performance this weekend, it is still incredible to have of the sport’s greats back in active competition.
Featured Image: MMA Junkie