Miesha Tate signed with the UFC at a time when women’s MMA wasn’t thought highly of, but now it’s mainstream.
Tate made her UFC debut back in 2013 at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale, losing to Cat Zingano via a third-round TKO. Her rivalry with Ronda Rousey is considered by many to be one of the most heated in the history of the sport.
UFC President Dana White infamously said that women would never compete in the UFC as long as he was in charge, but that changed over time. Rousey and Tate’s development into stars helped change White’s mind, and ultimately it paid off with huge dividends.
During a recent interview with ESPN, Tate explained the differences between how women are perceived in MMA today compared to when she first started.
“It is so nice that this is normalized,” Tate said. “I used to get that question, ‘What is MMA? What is women’s MMA? Why would you do that?’ I don’t get too much of that anymore. It’s become sort of a normal thing for women to do, and a big change that I see is little girls in the training room. Little, little girls. I’m talking 4, 6, and 7 years old. When I started, you could’ve never seen little girls in Jiu-Jitsu practice and in grappling class. We’re seeing a generational change. What is going on right now is phenomenal, and it’s really cool for me to experience such a broad spectrum.
“I think I’m the only female to ever really start way back in the day before the UFC, before Strikeforce had women’s fighting. Then to come up through Strikeforce, become a Strikeforce champ, to become a UFC champ, reach the pinnacle of the sport. I’m so grateful for that perspective because it still keeps me motivated and hungry every single day. Knowing where I started and where I came from, how much ground I’ve covered, but I’m still ambitious as ever.”
Tate is set to make her move from bantamweight to flyweight later this year against former title challenger Lauren Murphy at UFC 276. After retiring following back-to-back losses to Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington, Tate seems rejuvenated in her return despite coming off a loss to Ketlen Vieira.
Female fighters such as Tate have become a normal part of pop culture, as recently evidenced by her win on the Celebrity Big Brother reality television show earlier this year.
Tate is regarded as one of the pioneers of women’s MMA and has seen it all when it comes to the struggles that women went through when trying to be promoted on the sport’s biggest stages. Now, stars such as Amanda Nunes and Kayla Harrison have helped to grow the sport worldwide, and the fact that they’re women seems to be somewhat of an afterthought.
Who are your favorite female MMA fighters to watch? What are your thoughts on Miesha Tate’s comments?