On The MMA Road Show with John Morgan, episode 173, former UFC Bantamweight powerhouse Miesha Tate gave a great interview not just by checking the boxes on routine questions, but for giving praise to current UFC fighters, especially Rose Namajunas; the sort of praise that speaks well to the recipient and the giver.
During the interviews first half, Tate spoke about how, in retirement, her family comes first. While she still feels competitive -- enough to consider a grappling tournament -- and has plenty of post fight-career financial opportunities from which to choose, she’s enjoying a low public profile.
When asked about what she’s got going on these days, Tate prioritizes her new daughter, Mia, and maintains her commitment to her SiriusXM internet-radio show, followed by appearances on pre-fight shows and other such media events.
Competing at some level is also on on her list of things to do.
Pregnancy didn’t slow Tate’s will to train. Said Tate, "I stayed really active and busy throughout the pregnancy. I was hitting mitts with my former striking coach, the one I won my world title with, Jimmy Gifford, past my due date. I was nine months pregnant and in there hitting mitts. So, it's not too far out of reach for me to get back in shape and start competing."
So what, then, of fighting again?
"If you could just show up and fight, I'd probably do it.” Said Tate. “But to have to go through the whole training camp, dieting, and the politics of everything -- it gets crazy. And the sport has changed. Where my passion really lies now is with my family."
Turns out, given her skills in wrestling, jiu-jitsu and submissions, Tate may find satisfaction in grappling competitions.
Moving deeper into the interview, with a platform to speak freely, Tate stays positive by giving praise to some current fighters, and stoic on a former rival. Nary a negative word or feint barb was spoken.
Morgan asked Tate about feelings on her old Strikeforce and UFC Bantamweight nemesis Ronda Rousey’s first class induction into the UFC Hall of Fame. Citing that their rivalry helped kick off the sport, Tate said "It would have been nice if we both would have been inducted at the same time.”
Nonetheless, Tate maintains, "I'm proud that women's mixed martial arts is continuing to be put on the map."
Tate also talked about MMA standouts Amanda Nunes and Cris Cyborg. When asked if she thinks former opponent Nunes could be the one to unseat UFC Featherweight champion Cris Cyborg, Tate responds, "I think Amanda could be the one to beat (her)."
Speaking slowly and thoughtfully, Tate continues, "I've been hit by Amanda. I've never been hit by Cyborg and I'm sure she hits like a truck, but I can definitely attest to the power that Amanda has and she's deceptively lengthy; she's very long. You think you're out of her range and you're not. She is someone who could actually probably hurt Cyborg. Cyborg, I don't think has ever really had to respect the power that another woman possesses standing across from her or at least she never seems to have. With Amanda that's different... If she goes in there and walks in straight like she does most other girls, she could really get hurt.”
Now, the part of the interview that really stuck with me was Tate sharing her thoughts on UFC Strawweight belt holder Rose Namajunas. "I think Rose... is amazing" said Tate.
Speaking of her time watching Namajunas fight in Invicta, before she was a known name and champion, Tate said, "She really came out there to fight and finish people. I remember her flying armbars, and flying triangles... She just possessed something different; a different kind of ambition. When you see that in a fighter really young, that she's willing to take those risks, big calculated risks, you think, 'She's got a fighting spirit.' And now she's the UFC world champion and it doesn't surprise me."
Given that the UFC loves its trash-talking fighters for promotional opportunities, interviewer John Morgan asked what Tate thinks about Rose and her distinctly different approach to public speaking.
"I think Rose is a breath of fresh air. Not everybody is going to gravitate to the trash-talking champion. Rose brings a sense of realness back to the sport. ... the way she presents herself is so authentic... she goes against the grain in a lot of different ways."
Namajunas "talks about people loving each other and not being so hateful” which "goes against the grain and I think she'll stand out for that” said Tate.
As a listener who may not represent the average mma fight fan, and who is still new on the journey from casual onlooker to engaged consumer, I love hearing Tate’s perspective on Namajunas. The young Strawweight champ’s public facing attitude resonates with me: to be successful does not have to mean chest-thumping and shit-talking; rather, it can mean humility and respect.
Hearing Tate’s thoughts on Namajunas reassures that even longtime, successful fighters can experience and demonstrate empathy; a quality, perhaps, not oft sought in combat sports, but for this fan at least, is a humanizing attribute.
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