Miesha Tate (right) says women’s MMA is here to stay. | Photo: Dave Mandel
Miesha Tate is on a roll, as the former high school wrestler continues to climb the ranks in the Strikeforce women’s welterweight division.
After suffering a decision loss to former Strikeforce 135-pound champion Sarah Kaufman in a back-and-forth May 2009 bout, Tate took two fights outside of the promotion -- defeating Sarah Oriza by head kick knockout and Valerie Coolbaugh via armbar. Tate then stepped back into the Strikeforce cage to fight Zoila Gurgel, subduing the “Warrior Princess” with another armbar. Tate’s next test came in Strikeforce’s four-woman welterweight tournament on Aug. 13, and she passed with flying colors, defeating Maiju Kujala and Hitomi Akano by unanimous decision.
The back-to-back victories earned Tate a title shot against Strikeforce welterweight champion Marloes Coenen in a bout that was supposed to take place on March 5. However, Tate was forced to withdraw from the bout due to a knee injury. She will instead fight the Dutch submission specialist for the title at Strikeforce/M-1 Global “Fedor vs. Henderson” on July 30 at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
In this exclusive interview with Sherdog.com, Tate discusses training at Team Alpha Male, her thoughts on Coenen’s fight with Liz Carmouche at Strikeforce “Feijao vs. Henderson,” her preparation for the title shot and the changes in women’s MMA following Zuffa LLC’s purchase of Strikeforce.
Sherdog.com: What got you interested in wrestling all the way back in high school?
Tate: I can’t play basketball to save my life, so wrestling was my only other option if I wanted to play sports. Wrestling was the best random thing I’ve ever done.
Sherdog.com: You recently began training with Team Alpha Male. Can you talk a bit about switching camps and how things are different at your new camp?
Tate: There’s a lot of unity on our team. We all are striving for the same thing, to be the best, and our ambitions combined drive us to be exceptional athletes and fighters.
Sherdog.com: Before Coenen defeated her, you were interested in a rematch with Kaufman. Is that a fight you still want?
Tate: Absolutely, I want the rematch with Sarah Kaufman because I feel like I have developed so much as a fighter since a close loss to her a few years ago. I feel like I have done enough to qualify for a rematch.
Sherdog.com: Is your upcoming fight with Coenen a bit of a grudge match?
Tate: Not necessarily. From what I know, I like Coenen. She seems intelligent and respectable. I enjoy her as a fighter, but when push comes to shove, I believe I want the win more than she does and I will break her will.
Sherdog.com: There was some criticism coming your way from Coenen’s camp over the timing of when you pulled out of your fight with the knee injury. Can you explain again your side of what happened?
Tate: I sustained a tear in my [lateral collateral ligament]; injuries happen in a contact sport. I sent Strikeforce the doctor’s paperwork, so that should have taken care of any suspicion on their part.
Sherdog.com: Coenen also seems to have been a little critical of the way you present yourself. Do you have any comments on that?
Tate: To each his own. Her standards and viewpoints may differ from mine. I don’t think I over exploit myself by any means, but I am comfortable embracing
my femininity as a woman. Some are not, and that’s OK, too.
Sherdog.com: What were your thoughts on the Coenen-Carmouche fight?
Tate: I thought maybe cutting to 135 [pounds] is beginning to take its toll on Marloes. I think she is healthier as a 145-pound fighter. She looked sluggish compared to usual, but then again, maybe it was just an off day for her. We all have them. I can only expect I will face the best Marloes any of us have seen, and I’m 100 percent prepared for that.
Sherdog.com: What’s your game plan for this fight and have you been training any differently to prepare for it?
Tate: Well, a game plan really only goes so far. It’s a fight, and I have to be prepared for anything and everything. I haven’t fought in almost a year, but I have been able to dedicate a tremendous amount of time towards learning and becoming a more skillful fighter in the last 12 months with Team Alpha Male. She has no idea what I will be bringing to the cage July 30.
Sherdog.com: Everyone has been wondering what the deal will be with female fighters in Strikeforce now that Zuffa’s got ownership. Have you noticed any changes?
Tate: I’ve noticed changes in how things are run, but it’s been for the better, I believe; seems like Zuffa has a little better grasp on marketing their fighters, and it’s nice that we can benefit from that as Strikeforce fighters now, as well.
Sherdog.com: When you were at the UFC Fighter Summit, you got the chance to meet UFC President Dana White and talk to him directly. Did you talk about women’s MMA at all?
Tate: I didn’t get the chance to speak with Dana personally, but I got a good vibe from the meetings. I think women’s MMA is here to stay.
Sherdog.com: What are some of your hobbies outside of fighting?
Tate: I absolutely love designing and decorating cakes. I also enjoy drawing.
Sherdog.com: Can you talk about the “Fight Life” documentary that you’re going to be in?
Tate: The “Fight Life” documentary is a beautiful project that really gets in depth about the life we have as fighters and the heavy sacrifices we have to make day in and day out just to pursue our dreams. It touches on everything from how we live to training to fighting to medical coverage. It’s really going to be eye opening for a lot of people.
Yael Grauer is a freelance writer and editor. Find her at http://yaelwrites.com.