When Miesha Tate announced her retirement back in 2016, she really had no intention of ever fighting again, and that led her to explore opportunities outside the cage.
At the top of her to-do list was starting a family, something that an active UFC career never really afforded her. But she was also ambitious about her job prospects beyond fighting. It wasn’t long after she gave birth to her first child that she found a new purpose, joining ONE Championship in an executive role while also serving as a brand ambassador and commentator for the Asian-based promotion.
Tate loved her time spent at ONE Championship. But eventually, after she had her second child, the desire to compete washed over her. Leaving the sport after two straight losses didn’t bother her as much as feeling like she left with unfinished business.
“I definitely don’t feel like this sport has passed me by,” Tate told MMA Fighting. “If you look at a lot of the women that are at the top, like a lot of the women when I was fighting, and a lot of them I’ve already fought against. Of course, it’s evolved over those four years, but I think what’s nice about the fact that I took that long break was that I was really burnt out.
“I was just kind of in a dark place to be honest, the latter part of my career. A lot of things in my personal life caught up to me.”
Returning to fight again with her next bout booked at UFC Vegas 31, Tate wants to be certain to convey that a comeback as a purely personal choice and not one motivated by necessity. As a prize fighter, she recognizes that money matters when looking at opportunities in the sport. But the financial compensation she will receive from the UFC had nothing to do with her returning from retirement.
In fact, Tate said she’s actually losing money by returning to fighting full-time because her previous employment at ONE Championship made her very financially stable.
“When I make this comeback, I’m not doing it cause I have no other options,” she said. “I’m not doing it because I’m hurting for money. As a matter of fact, I’m walking away from a six-figure job to fight.
“I have to win three fights to make more than I would with my job at ONE Championship. Win three fights. So again, it’s never been about money for me. That’s not the No. 1 motivating factor.”
As much as she enjoyed her time at ONE Championship, Tate admits it wasn’t hard to leave the job behind.
“Tough to give it up? No, because I know it’s the right decision, but I feel a little bad because ONE Championship was so good to me,” Tate said. “They’re continuing to support me 110-percent, which is just truly amazing. It’s not very often that you find a friend in the business world that’s successful but shares the understanding and the passion for the sport. I think that Chatri [Sityodtong] is a very special individual and that’s why I really appreciate his support.
“My No. 1 goal was to compete again. I need to do that for myself. The decision was already made. I knew if I had to quit with ONE Championship in order to fight for the UFC, that was the decision that needed to be done regardless of anything else. The decision was already made and it wasn’t so difficult.”
In an ironic twist, Tate’s first fight back from retirement will serve as her opponent Marion Reneau’s final bout. The 44-year-old veteran has already announced that the fight against Tate will be her last as she plans on hanging up her gloves for good after Saturday night.
Tate has the utmost respect for Reneau, and she also understands that she’s now facing a fighter with next to nothing to lose because this truly is her last stand.
“People are going to expect if I want to have a future and back up my talk and my dreams of wanting to become a champion again, I have to beat Marion Reneau,” Tate said. “But this is her retirement fight, and when you have a retirement fight, you have nothing left to save for. This is it. She’s going to put everything she has into this fight.
“She wants to go out on a win. She wants to go out with a bang, and I think I’ve just got to be very mindful of that and I’m taking her very, very seriously. I’m not taking her lightly because she can spoil your night really, really quickly.”
As much as Reneau may be leaving everything in the cage on Saturday night, Tate is almost doing the same as she makes her return to the UFC after nearly five years away.
She hopes to make an immediate impact with a win against Reneau and then begin the steady climb back up the bantamweight ranks in hopes of challenging for a UFC title again.
“I’m ready to make that comeback,” Tate said. “I’m ready to make that second surge at my career.”