Posted 08/01/2013 by admin in UFC

A Tale of Ronda Rousey vs Miesha Tate

By Jon Lane, August 1st, 2013

Down, despondent and nearly out with her career at a crossroads, fate lifted Miesha Tate from MMA purgatory back into the limelight. Once before her was an opportunity to extract revenge over her hated rival, Ronda Rousey, by first facing her as an opposing coach in The Ultimate Fighter before the chance to get back what Rousey took away from her last March. The only problem was Tate was stopped by Cat Zingano in April, so instead of a promoter’s dream rematch, the much-less heralded Zingano earned her shot at Rousey’s UFC women’s bantamweight title and Tate went home to Yakima, Washington.

It was a low point in Tate’s career. She went through a week of having to digest what she lost. The aftertaste was hideous and left her begging UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby for another fight as soon as possible. She was granted Liz Carmouche, Rousey’s first UFC victim, at UFC on Fox 8 in nearby Seattle. It was a chance to get back in the win column, but not completely fill the hole left in her competitive spirit.

“I knew that it was meant to be,” Tate told MMA Owl on Tuesday in New York City. “It wasn’t and it didn’t happen, and now I lost out on all these opportunities and what am I going to do now?”

“Then I got the call from Dana and everything changed.”

Fate brought Tate, 1-2 in her last three fights including that humbling submission loss to Rousey last March that cost her the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight championship, on stage at New York’s Beacon Theater as part of the UFC’s World Tour to promote a string of championship fights to end 2013. A knee injury to Zingano led to Tate’s phone ringing while she was driving around running errands. On the other end was Dana White. The UFC president told she needed to come to Las Vegas for a serious conversation. In two hours she was on a plane and arrived to White’s office where she took a seat.

“He said, ‘I just wanted to see you face-to-face to let you know how fuckin’ serious I am,’” Tate recalled. “He said it in a way that made my stomach sick, like oh my gosh is this good or bad? I was like oh my gosh this is going to be bad. He was totally fucking with my emotions at that point.”

Instead of a pick slip, Tate was provided a sudden reprieve. Told about Zingano’s unfortunate injury, Tate was to coach TUF. She immediately asked if she was getting Rousey again. The answer was yes and a date was set for December 28 at UFC 168 in Sin City.

“With all the bumps in the road — I felt like I was supposed to win that fight against Cat Zingano — that’s the beautiful thing about MMA,” Tate said. “You never can never really predict what’s going to happen.”

This isn’t just any rivalry. Tate and Rousey hate each other, period. They sit at complete opposite ends of the dais, enter and exit separately and completely avoid one another except for photo opportunities that create their own sets of news. Tate has head-butted Rousey (before their first fight). Tate was shown in a promotional package promoting the next TUF season blowing a kiss to combat Rousey’s stone-cold stare. In Los Angeles on Monday, the first stop of the world tour, Rousey felt compelled to flip Tate the bird.

You’d have better luck brokering peace between the Hatfields and McCoys.

“It’s one of the biggest rivalries we’ve ever had,” White told MMA Owl. “When you talk about two people not liking each other, it’s literally pure hatred between these two and complete disrespect. They can’t even be in the same room together.”

The rivalry’s roots came during Tate’s reign as Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion. Rousey had just burst on the scene by winning each of her fights via armbar in the first round. On camera, the sassy blonde issued a challenge to Tate, saying she planned to slap the bet out of her hands.

From there’s it’s been words exchanged more poisonous than a rattlesnake’s venom.

“I think it’s a personality thing, mostly,” Rousey said. “I think we were raised in very, very different ways. In order to respect somebody, you’re honest and you’re up front with them and you tell them exactly what you think. From what I notice, her idea is to smile to your face and then do something behind your back. I think it’d be more respectful for her to tell me off to my face instead of talking behind my back. I think that is classless.”

Six weeks filming The Ultimate Fighter taught Tate something about Rousey. In her words she’s “really crazy, emotionally charged and a bully.” In the first fight, Rousey’s words and mind games got the best of Tate, who failed to keep her emotions in check and left her under emotional distress.

“When I went out there I just saw red,” Tate said. “I barely remember the fight. I didn’t stick to the game plan very well and I lost. After that I really had to sit back and digest and be like what was my biggest problem? The fact that I let her manipulate me. I let her make me angry. I let her make me upset. I let her make me bitter. I let her make me mad. I’m not going to do that anymore. I’m just not. Being unhappy around her doesn’t serve me well. I have to find a way to tune it out. I’m not going to take it personally because she’s the person that she is.

“I’m not going to let her dictate how I feel and how I act. She definitely talked about how she was raised and how I was raised. First of all, she doesn’t know how I was raised at all, so she can’t compare and contrast, but she said she was taught to say what you feel to your opponent’s face and that’s the ultimate sign of respect. Well I was raised that you don’t disrespect someone in the first place. Respect is something that’s mutually given and I feel like it was never given to me. From the very get-go Ronda was very disrespectful. That’s the reason why I have a problem.”

Hell-bent on defeating Rousey on December 28, Tate is thinking trilogy and another shot at Zingano — provided that Kim Winslow isn’t the referee. Tate ripped into Winslow for a premature stoppage that cost her a fight she was winning after two rounds. She claimed that after taking two knees to the face and blocking an elbow, she went for a takedown and that’s when Winslow halted the bout. Tate asked why the stoppage. Winslow’s answer was that her face was a mess.

“I was like, really, that’s why people stop fights these days,” Tate said. “Wow. OK. I guess I’m new to all this. I didn’t realize that just because I’m bleeding out of my nose that’s the reason to stop the fight.”

“I was bleeding, yes, but I wasn’t rocked at that point. I think Kim Winslow is a terrible referee. I think she’s horrible. I think she’s ruining people’s lives. There was a lot on the line for that fight and I think she should have given it every benefit of the doubt.”

A short time later, fate intervened, granting Tate another marquee fight, a co-main event against a girl she despises as much as she loves fighting for a living. Some things are just meant to be, where destiny isn’t denied by referee error or two devastating defeats. A gold strap and a win over Tate in hand, Rousey holds all the cards and the deck is stacked against “Cupcake.” Fine, Tate says. The chance to shut her up is exactly what she wants, damn the circumstances.

“(Winslow) ruined a dream of mine,” Tate said, “but I’m so blessed that it worked out this way.”


Notes from New York

• Georges St. Pierre set the record straight. Last November at UFC 154 open workouts, the UFC welterweight champion said that he had “a hard time watching girls fighting.” That was off seeing current Invicta bantamweight champion Cris Cyborg brutalize every opponent. Over time, St. Pierre became more educated and watching Rousey defeat Carmouche in her UFC debut opened his eyes.

“I think she stands out from other women,” St. Pierre said. “I was surprised and it made me change my mind a little bit. I’m not against women fighting. I didn’t really pay attention to it before, but now it’s part of the UFC and part of my work. I’m into it.”

“I didn’t like women’s MMA either. I hated it,” White said. “I said women would never be in the UFC — ever. Then as women’s MMA continued to evolve, I educated myself a little bit about it and the new girls who were fighting. When you educate yourself and you see women fighting, you realize how many talented women are out there right now. Georges St. Pierre was uneducated on women’s fighting, just like I was.”

It was a feather in Rousey’s cap to hear St. Pierre’s remarks. “I understood why. I had a lot of personal evolving to do too,” Rousey said. She turned to St. Pierre and told him how she’s “absolutely enthralled every time you fight.” The two then shared an embrace.

• Jon Jones isn’t moving up to heavyweight anytime soon. There’s more to be done at light-heavyweight, which includes a title defense against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 156 September 21 in Toronto. While not looking past Gustafsson, Jones said he’s interested in fighting another top light-heavyweight, Glover Teixeira. Furthermore, a win over Gustafsson will break Tito Ortiz’s UFC record for the most successful and consecutive light-heavyweight title defenses (five).

“I’ll be here for a little white,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of work to be done in the light-heavyweight division. I’m going to try to set a standard and a new record that’s going to be really hard to break. That’s going to take some time.”

Still, there remains a karat at heavyweight. If by the time Jones is ready for the move Cain Velasquez remains champion, he’d love a potential bout with the reigning king at 205.

“I think Jon Jones is a great champion,” Velasquez said. “He’s amazing at what he does out there. If he does be champ for a while, definitely I’ll accept the challenge for sure.”

Following Velasquez’s remarks the two fighters engaged in a brief staredown.


Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC