Six months ago Miesha Tate was preparing to headline the most anticipated women's MMA match of this decade. Now, this upcoming Saturday, Tate has been relegated to a Strikeforce undercard fight on sparsely received Showtime Extreme. From the outside it's a puzzling demotion, and one that Tate isn't exactly happy with.
"I think being main event of the undercard is lame," Tate bluntly said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "I'm not thrilled about it.
"To me that's really stupid, because [Showtime and Strikeforce] know as well as I know, that if I win this fight and if Ronda (Rousey) wins her fight, that puts us in each other's paths again. A potential rematch. The hype on that was so big before, I think it's the biggest fight in women's MMA. I still think that. And I think that a rematch would be the next biggest fight in women's MMA."
It goes without saying, but the smoldering build-up to Tate's title fight against Rousey lifted the profile of women's MMA to the highest level it'd seen since 2009. The pair appeared to develop a genuine dislike for one another, and for Tate, losing the belt via a grisly first-round armbar did little to settle the bad blood created by Rousey's brashness.
"I get annoyed by it, honestly," Tate acknowledged.
"To me, it's dumb. She needs to stop talking too much crap, especially about celebrities and people that aren't even fighters, and stuff like that. To me that is so childish, like calling out Kim Kardashian and talking crap about Michael Phelps. It's just like, grow up."
For what it's worth, Tate is still able to give credit where credit is due. After witnessing Rousey's barrage into pop culture, from a late-night appearance on Conan to a cover shoot for ESPN the Magazine's annual "Body Issue," Tate admits her rival has widened the spotlight for women's MMA to a remarkable degree.
Nonetheless, her desire for revenge burns deep, and after the breakthrough success of the first Rousey-Tate blockbuster, she may not be alone in her pursuit. According to the former champion, a powerful ally, UFC President Dana White, has already thrown his support behind a potential rematch.
"I think Dana, if I'm not mistaken, has said he'd like to see a rematch eventually," said Tate.
"He realizes that what Ronda and I bring, we play off of each other well. I think without me, Ronda would not be at the level that she's at. And somewhat vice versa ... we kind of ping-ponged off of each other up to here, and now she's surpassing me in followers and fame, and all that stuff. But it's not over until it's over. I know I'm still here."
As a top-three fighter in Strikeforce's shallow 135-pound women's division, Tate has reason to believe a rematch with Rousey isn't as far-fetched as it may initially seem. The fact that her comeback fight against Julie Kedzie is lined-up on the same card as Rousey's first title defense only further fuels her optimism.
To that end, Tate said she went straight to the top to figure out her chances.
"I asked (Strikeforce matchmaker) Sean (Shelby) as well, ‘what do I have to do?'," Tate divulged.
"He said, 'you know what, a lot of it is fan based. We want to feed the fans what they want to see; we want to give the fans the entertainment that they want.' So I think if I can stir up enough interest and maybe poke enough fun, and win a really good fight in a dominant fashion, then that sets me up perfectly for a rematch. I'm hoping that I can get it right after this one fight. I mean, we all saw how quick Ronda got her title shot."
Of course, Tate's appeal for a rematch hinges entirely on Rousey defeating Sarah Kaufman this Saturday. Kaufman, a menacing Canadian bruiser, is a tall order for any fighter in the division, but ultimately Tate believes Rousey will be too much for the challenger.
"It would be nice, I think, to see Ronda knocked off her pedestal," said Tate. "But again, part of me wants me to be the one to do it, so I don't want Sarah to be the first one to beat her. I want to be the first one to beat her. And I think that Ronda will beat [Kaufman], because her game plan is a little easier to implement over a 25-minute period of time than Sarah's is.
"But I want to steal the show from those ladies," she finished. "I want to have the better fight, and I want people to want to see that rematch, because I feel like I deserve it."