What does one do after winning a battle that belongs on the list of Fight of the Year candidates? Why, you go to Disneyland, of course.
But Miesha Tate has more on her mind than celebrating her thrilling comeback victory over Julie Kedzie on Saturday night in San Diego.
Tate, whose bout with Kedzie was her first since losing the Strikeforce women's bantamweight title to Ronda Rousey and getting a dislocated elbow in the process, didn't feel right before, during, or after the bout.
And as she told Ariel Helwani while calling into Monday's edition of The MMA Hour on her way to Disneyland, she's going to take some time to rediscover the fire which took her to the top of the women's MMA game.
"I didn't feel the passion and fire I felt in all my previous fights," Tate said of her third-round submission victory. "I felt out of my element, I didn't feel normal in there whatsoever. It was very strange, it was not a feeling I enjoyed and not something I want to experience again, I don't really know what my next step is here."
To the outside observer, the match between Tate and Kedzie was simply a classic barnburner, with the veteran Kedzie at the top of her game and Tate raising her game when pushed to her limits. Indeed, Tate made sure to credit Kedzie for her performance in the fight.
"I thought she was going to run a little bit more," said Tate. "You know, I was happy to exchange with her, I think it made for a much more exciting fight. I struggled a bit on some of the takedowns, I had some really deep shots ... she was just on point as far as defending, she really made me work for it. But that's what you have to expect when you come in there for a fight. You can't expect it to be easy, or you're going to get the first takedown, so I was OK with that. She shut down the takedown the first couple times. I kept working for it and eventually I got it. I was able to prove that for the most part, she definitely couldn't hang with me on the ground, it is what it is."
Tate rallied to take the second round, but found herself deep in danger in round three after finding herself on the wrong end of a Kedzie head kick. At that point, she knew a finish was probably necessary.
"She got that head kick and I think if I hadn't finished fight at that point, she could have stole it with the head kick," she said. "She dropped me, she did a good amount of damage and that was the significant point up to that point in the round. So I knew when I was working on my back, man, man, I gotta go. I've got to get this move in, we've had a very competitive fight, she got round one, I've got round two, and at this point, she just dropped me and I gotta finish the fight."
Tate got the victory when Kedzie tapped with about 90 seconds left in the fight. But, displaying a level of honesty and self-awareness that fighters don't often admit to in public, Tate knew, coming out of the fight, that she's not ready for a rematch with Rousey, and that she needs to go back to the drawing board. The point was emphasized when she found herself staring across the cage at Kedzie before the fight.
"Even when I was when lined up with Julie, across the cage, I was like, ‘Is this really happening right now? Am I really here? Am I really in this fight?' I felt like I was kind of just in this twilight zone. I did not like that. It's not how I normally feel, not how emotions really run. Normally I'm excited to be there, I'm amped and pumped, and I felt little to nothing, and I mean, she literally elbowed me and got my lip really good and I was like ‘ehh, whatever.' She kicked me in the face, ‘ehh, whatever,' It was not, it wasn't a normal circumstance for me I don't know why that is but I'm asking myself a lot of questions."
Tate, who said she's considering seeing a sports psychologist, figures it will take her about six months to a year to get back on the right path.
"I think I need to take a step back, relax a minute, and evaluate it," she continued.
"I need to find a way to fire myself up again and get that passion, because I know there's so much I still want to accomplish in MMA. I absolutely want to fight Ronda Rousey twice, but at this point, you know, mentally and emotionally, I'm not right. I shouldn't be getting into the cage if I'm not going into it wholeheartedly for this fight. It's hard for me to admit that, but that's the honest truth. I didn't feel like it for this fight like I did for other fights. I don't know how to explain that, I guess it's something I just have to figure out at this point."