Miesha Tate's rivalry with UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is well documented. The pair have traded verbal barbs across the media throughout the majority of the year, and things were no different last week, when both Rousey and UFC President Dana White implied that Tate turned down an opportunity to rematch Rousey in the main event of UFC 157.
"Absolutely not," Tate responded flatly on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "I was never presented with that. I had made it clear that I wanted to take some time off after my last win over Julie Kedzie, but that doesn't mean you don't make an exception to the rule when something like that is presented. Clearly when I made those statements, that was before women were coming to the UFC for sure. That was before it be would an opportunity to headline. That was before it would an opportunity to make history.
"If they would have said, ‘Hey, you want to fight Ronda in the UFC? You want to headline a UFC card for the first fight in history for women?' I would have been like, hell yeah. But it wasn't offered to me."
The title shot ultimately went to surprise candidate Liz Carmouche, who now rides a two-fight win streak into the most historic stage in WMMA history.
Carmouche is a top-10 fighter, and Tate is more than understanding of the UFC's decision. She just can't believe her name was so arbitrarily dragged through the mud.
"That's exactly what bothered me," said Tate. "It wasn't that I didn't get offered the fight, because I'm okay with earning the rematch. I'm okay with working my way back up there and really feeling like I deserve that position. I'm fine with that. But I'm not okay with Ronda saying that I'm basically afraid to fight her and that I turned that fight down, and that she thinks it's funny that happened. Because it never happened.
"It's not something that if the UFC had offered to me, I would ever even consider turning down."
Tate spoke to both White and UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby in the ensuing days after the story broke, and according to her, both men are well aware of the truth.
"Ronda is one of those people that like to say things that get attention and she likes to call people out," explained Tate. "She likes to get under skin, and maybe that's all part of her tactic. I don't know if she really believes that, or if it was just something that she kind of wanted to run with a little bit. But either way, for me that's not important. What's important is that I'm able to get my truth out there and set the record straight."
Given her tumultuous relationship with Rousey, Tate finds herself in a unique position. There's no question women are fighting in the UFC because of Rousey's rising star. White said as much during last Thursday's press conference, repeating ad nauseam that he was in "the Ronda Rousey business," and this experiment "could last ten years" or "last a year."
Yet promoting an entire division strictly around one fighter is a precarious risk to take in a sport as unpredictable as mixed martial arts, and Tate can't say she agrees with how the UFC is handling the situation.
"I think they're putting a little too many eggs in one basket," she admitted. "I mean, What happens if [Rousey] goes out there and she does lose to Liz for some reason?
"Then it's kind of like, all of this that they've put into it is all nothing. I feel like it's not maybe the smartest thing to just base everything solely off of Ronda, when clearly there's more talent and I'm also right here too. I really feel like I was a big part of making history. If I'd just tapped out when Ronda got me in the armbar, it wouldn't have been such an explosive thing. I feel like the reason she's up for submission of the year is because of my stubbornness."
Ultimately, Tate knows she'll get her opportunity for revenge. Due to contractual obligations with Strikeforce, she can't publicly say if she's signed with the UFC yet, though it's a safe assumption to expect to see her donning UFC gloves in 2013.
When exactly that will be, Tate can't say for sure. She plans to take some time off and build her brand before eyeing a possible return in May. From there, Tate will look to reclaim what she believes is rightfully hers.
"They think that [Rousey] is exactly what women's MMA needs to succeed," Tate finished. "And, I don't know. Personally, I think I could do just fine in the same position, and it's up to me to prove that. It's up to me to go out there, win the fights I need to win, win the rematch, and carry the weight of the world on my shoulders for a little while. And I plan to do so. I've got a little bit of work cut out for me, clearly, but I'm going to take the right steps and I'm going to do it."