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Morning Report: Miesha Tate considering drop to flyweight division following Julianna Peña’s win at UFC 269

UFC Fight Night: Vieira v Tate Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

This past weekend, Julianna Peña pulled off one of the greatest upsets in UFC history, submitting Amanda Nunes at UFC 269 to become the new women’s bantamweight champion. The upset created a seismic shift in the division, opening up an opportunity for other marquee fighters to finally get another crack at the title in a division that Nunes has ruled for over five years. However, for one former champion, Peña’s upset may have spelled the end of her bantamweight title aspirations for good.

Miesha Tate was the last UFC bantamweight champion before Nunes took the title, and following her return to the sport this year after a five-year retirement, Tate had made it clear that her intentions were to get herself back to a rematch with Nunes for the belt she lost to the women’s MMA GOAT. But with Nunes losing the title to Peña, a good friend and occasional training partner of Tate, “Cupcake” is now considering a drop down to 125 pounds to avoid having to face her friend.

“This definitely changes the entire landscape of the bantamweight division,” Tate told MMA Junkie. “I think what will be next will be Amanda and Julie. All signs point to that will be the next fight, and I think Julie wins that fight again, especially because Amanda has already been broken by her once. I believe Julianna can definitely do that again, probably with more ease the second time. I need to get in the win column again so I will probably fight in March, probably is what I’m looking at. I don’t want to fight Julie because I’ve rooted for so long for her to get there.

“A lot can change between now and then, so I have to win and do my job so I think what really I’ve got to do is win and focus on that. If Julie’s still the champion by the time that I get there, then I think that’s a conversation we have at that time. I’ve probably got to get two wins until I’m looking at a championship fight, at least, so I’ve got to focus on me and I’m going to continue to cheer on Julie and pray that we don’t ever have to fight each other.

“I know that Julianna can make 125 and I can make 125. There’s also those things too. It’s not out of the question for either of us to go hunting Valentina (Shevchenko) at some point. There’s lots of dynamics. I know she really wants that fight too so we’d have to see what happens if everything continues to play out in that direction, there’s always that possibility of us going to 125 for either of us too.”

Tate has flirted with the flyweight division before, even suggesting that 125 pounds would be a more natural fit for her than 135, back before the UFC had the weight class; however, a big impediment for her is the perception dropping down would create. Tate is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Ketlen Vieira at UFC Vegas 43 in November and the former bantamweight champion says she’s not enthused about leaving her longtime division on a loss.

“It’s something I’ve definitely thought about, but I definitely don’t want people thinking that I’m running at 135,” Tate said. “I hate the idea of leaving a division on a loss. It really bugs me. Something really bothers me about that, leaving the division on a loss. It’s something I’ve thought about, but at the same time, I feel like I need more time to digest all of that. It’s not out of the question by any means, but it would be a long process to get down to 125. I’ve been pretty vocal that I’m not a fan of big weight cuts, so I would probably have to do some things to change my body to get down to that weight, but it’s not something that’s way out in left field.”

Though a drop to 125 would certainly be difficult, it would also immediately open up a whole new world of opportunity. Peña’s upset over Nunes means the bantamweight division is likely going to be held up for some time as the two rematch, and possibly have a trilogy bout, and with Tate coming off a loss to the fifth-ranked bantamweight, she’s well out of the title conversation. But the flyweight division is a different story entirely. Valentina Shevchenko has already beaten the top-four women ranked in the division and is in need of a new challengers, particularly ones with the promotional appeal and pedigree of Tate. Should she make the decision to move down, Tate may only need one win to earn a title shot and a chance for a second UFC belt. It’s a tempting proposition, but one Tate says she has not committed to yet.

“It’s definitely something I feel like it would be an option,” Tate said. “I just have to decide to. I’m definitely leaning toward staying at 135 especially given the change-ups, but it’s definitely not something out of the question.”


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Thanks for reading, enjoy the fights, and see y’all next week.



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