Miesha Tate is certainly relieved to get a first UFC win under her belt, though she admits the performance left a lot to be desired.
In Saturday’s UFC on FOX 11 co-headliner, Tate (14-5 MMA, 1-2 UFC) overcame a slow start to rally and defeat fellow former UFC title challenger Liz Carmouche (9-5 MMA, 1-3 UFC). The network-televised bout, which airs on FOX from Orlando, Fla.’s Amway Center, was another a high-profile slot for Tate, though she admitted the doubts crept in.
After Cat Zingano rallied to defeat her in her promotional debut, and following a commendable but losing effort against reigning women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in her second bout, Tate said her latest outing got off to a lackluster start.
“I was trying not to be a psycho in the fight and be a little bit more calculated,” said Tate, who picked up her first victory since a submission of Julie Kedzie at an August 2012 Strikeforce event. “I don’t know. I think I was struggling with a mental hurdle. Just losing two in a row was really rough. Starting to think like, ‘Am I cursed?’ and going through all these weird questions. I started off slow.”
Stuck on her back by the powerful Carmouche in the first round, Tate finally started to find her stride in the second round before posting a strong final frame and nearly securing a fight-ending rear-naked choke.
However, like some cageside media outlets, half of which scored the fight for Carmouche, UFC President Dana White wasn’t convinced Tate won the fight.
“I thought Liz won Rounds 1 and 2, and I thought Miesha won the third round,” he said. “But it’s one of those things where if you look at the second round, Liz didn’t really do any damage. She took her down. She held her. If you give Miesha points for submission attempts, it’s not crazy to say Miesha won the fight.”
It took her a while to snap out of the early funk, and Tate said she was over-thinking things in the first round. But with the right mindset, she thinks can more consistently put in the type of performances that fans saw in the later stages of the fight, which she won via 29-28 scores (watch the Tate vs. Carmouche video highlights).
“There’s a fine line for me between thinking and going,” said Tate, who admitted she thought Carmouche might get the judges’ nod. “When I go, that’s what happens in the third round. When I’m thinking, that’s what happens in the first round.
“It took me a minute, to be like, ‘Hey, you know what? I’ve got to go.’”
Although mostly muted in the first round, the Amway Center crowd began to come alive as Tate rallied. The 27-year-old, who got a profile boost after coaching opposite Rousey on “The Ultimate Fighter 18″ this past year, suddenly heard “Mie-sha! Mie-sha!” chants as she corralled Carmouche and got off her back.
Tate, who also received the night’s loudest cheers during fighter introductions, is obviously one of the organization’s bigger stars. However, after a two-fight skid, a third UFC loss could have been disastrous for her. It would have also put the UFC in a tough position. There’s no doubt Tate has some drawing power, but it’s hard to promote a fighter on a three-fight losing streak.
Tate, though, is confident she can carry the momentum of Saturday’s final round into future bookings. That includes, she said, a potential bout with Gina Carano (7-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC), the former Strikeforce fighter who’s apparently considering a return from a near-five-year layoff, though White suggested her signing is still far from definite.
Carano may be fast-tracked to a title shot, but Tate said she’d happily welcome her to the octagon. Regardless, though, she said fans can expect better performances, regardless of whom they come against.
“I’m definitely capable of better,” she said. “Anyone who’s ever seen me knows it’s not typical for me to start slow, but I did this fight. I’m over the hurdle now. I won the fight, and I’m happy. I got my first UFC victory, and I think that’s going to motivate me more.”