The big stage is nothing new to Miesha Tate.
The reigning UFC women’s bantamweight queen has competed in a number of high-profile bouts over the years, often sharing the stage with some of the sport’s biggest stars: Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor and Anderson Silva, to name a few. So with that in mind, a featured spot on the UFC 200 bill doesn’t come with any added butterflies for “Cupcake.”
“Yes, I fought on really, really big cards before, groundbreaking cards like when Anderson Silva fought Chris Weidman [at UFC 168], and I was the co-main event on that card and that was a huge card,” Tate said during a recent conference call. “I’ve had a lot of amazing opportunities to fight alongside some of the best and greatest fighters in the world. So this is just definitely another day in the office for me -- something that I’m completely used to.
“I’m used to media pressure -- I’m used to everything that goes with this, so there’s no surprises here and I’m well prepared for everything that I anticipate will happen and already has been happening. So nothing new here.”
Tate will make her first 135-pound title defense against Amanda Nunes at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night. Nunes has won five of her six Octagon appearances, including recent triumphs over Valentina Shevchenko and Sara McMann.
Still, there’s no question that Tate has the experience edge. The former Strikeforce titlist is also well-known for her ability to weather adversity in her fights, which is what she did by submitting Holly Holm in the fifth round at UFC 196. If Tate had not earned that last-minute tapout, she likely would have lost on the scorecards.
“I think that I’m definitely battle-tested and I’ve proven that, but I have a great mindset and a lot of great skills that I bring to the table,” Tate said. “And yes, I know that no matter where this fight goes that I’ll be prepared and that’s what I train to do in every single time that I fight. I’m prepared to go all five rounds if necessary.
“But, I’m hoping to get these finishes out there faster and faster each time, so that’s my goal.”
Considering the close nature of the first meeting with Holm, there was some speculation that Tate would be booked in an immediate rematch against the Jackson-Wink MMA standout. Also looming was a potential third meeting with longtime rival Rousey. For various reasons, neither of those bouts materialized in time for UFC 200.
In fact, Tate claims neither matchup was discussed with promotion officials.
“I took this fight because the UFC called me up and asked me if I would fight and I said, ‘Yes.’ It’s as simple as that -- there was no mention of any other names. Ronda was clearly not able to fight and I don’t know why they didn’t have me fight Holly or why that was, there’s speculations of her management and them not being on the greatest terms with the UFC. I don’t know that -- I can’t comment,” she said. “But I wasn’t asked for any other fight than Amanda. I’m not the matchmaker -- they have a matchmaker for a reason. And he has a job to do and that’s to matchmake fights. So when they called me and asked me to fight -- I don’t pick and choose -- I just say, ‘Yes.’”
If Tate successfully defends her belt against Nunes, she expects to take some time off before targeting a late 2016 return. Perhaps then she can resume her rivalry with either Holm or Rousey.
“I know I want to take a little time to enjoy myself, as I went straight from my camp with Holly -- straight into [boyfriend Bryan Caraway’s] camp against Aljamain Sterling and then straight into this camp -- which has been awesome to keep that great momentum going -- I’m really happy about that,” she said. “But, my birthday is in August and I would like to take just a little bit of time. So I think in November or December it would be reasonable.”
Tate will not allow herself to speculate on who she might face then, however. The Xtreme Couture product knows what it means to be overlooked and how dangerous that can make an opponent.
“I’ve been seeing that a lot of people are losing titles quickly and making, focusing on things that they don’t need to be and I refuse to make that mistake,” she said.
“I didn’t get here by overlooking opponents and Amanda ---- she really wants this -- she’s on a win streak and I’ve prepared everything that I have to beat the best Amanda Nunes that’s going to come on July 9, and I believe that. So the only opponent that I care to talk about or care to be focused on right now is Amanda Nunes and that’s it.”