Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold felt it before their middleweight title fight at UFC 194 in December. Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald experienced it back when they put on the Fight of the Year at UFC 189 in July. And now, just a little over six weeks before UFC 197, Miesha Tate and Holly Holm are about to get find out what it’s like, too.
They are going to fight on a pay-per-view in the shadow of global firebrand Conor McGregor, who will headline UFC 197 against Rafael dos Anjos for the lightweight belt. And if last week’s UFC 197 media conference was any indication, McGregor will be in rare form as he tries to make history in holding two belts concurrently.
As far as the women’s bantamweight challenger Tate is concerned, she’s more than happy letting him hog the spotlight going in, if it means more people watch.
"Well you know what, it’s really nice, because it definitely takes a lot of the distractions off, and he seems to handle it really well," Tate said during an appearance on The MMA Hour on Monday. "And the good thing about it is, when I go out there and take this belt, regardless, there’s going to be a lot of eyes watching. Because whether they want to see Conor McGregor or they want to see our fight, they’re going to be watching. We’re right before their fight, so pretty much the entire world’s going to see that, and I’m really excited about that. So that’s the most important thing.
"If he’s going to take on the role of taking most the questions and most the lead-up and most of that stress, let him have it. Because when that fight comes people are going to be watching, and that’s all I care about."
Tate caught a full blast of the McGregor experience at the press conference in Las Vegas, having been sat right next to him. She said she marveled at his control that environment so well, and she had to at times check herself from laughing.
"It’s kind of mind blowing, honestly," Tate told Ariel Helwani. "I have never sat next to Conor at a press conference. I’ve heard his interviews and things like that, but I’ve never sat next to him and really just listened to him do his full gamut of mental warfare, and it was honestly pretty impressive. I don’t know where this guy gets it from but I mean he is really in his own right a genius.
"It was just crazy to watch it unfold. It was just kind of jaw-dropping, and there were definitely times where I kind of caught myself laughing, and I was like, oh my gosh, I should not be laughing at this right now. But he is really funny, and he’s just very witty. He’s a very intelligent man."
As for the press conference being delayed for 25 minutes — and ultimately starting without McGregor — Tate said she believed it was all part of the Irishman’s grand plan.
"Well Dana seemed a little bit irritated and everyone else seemed a little bit stressed out, kind of frantically trying to locate him or find him or figure out what was going on," she said. "And I think that Conor wanted to do it on purpose, again I think it’s part of his strategy to always be the star of the show. To always be the last man standing, the last man to get attention. I think he had it planned a little bit, but I can’t say for sure. But I wouldn’t put it past him to want to make an entrance. He didn’t want to just walk in like everybody else. He wanted to make his entrance, and he did."