Miesha Tate has been busy since defeating Julie Kedzie in her last fight. APOCALYPSE MMA's Derek Ciapala caught up with Tate recently, and here is what she had to say about her new website mieshatate.com, her future, and women's MMA.
Miesha, what have you been up to since your last fight?
Tate: Since my fight with Julie? Pretty relaxing, I went to Brazil for a month; that was really nice. It was definitely a worthwhile trip. I got to meet some really awesome people. I trained at a few gyms out there, and now back home just continuing to work on the techniques. I've also been doing some cooking and baking.
After your fight, you mentioned that you would be taking some time off. Are you sticking with that?
Tate: Yup, for a while. I'm just enjoying a little bit of a slower pace, but I look forward to getting back into action maybe this spring.
Why change your nickname from "Takedown Tate" to "Cupcake Tate"?
Tate: Well, for one, I have a healthy obsession with cupcakes. That's part of it. I've been a baker since I was a little kid, so I thought that it would be kind of a cute, fun, playful thing. It's just something that embodies the outlook that I want to have for my future. I think I learned a lot from my fight with Ronda [Rousey] about taking things too seriously or just getting too emotional. So the nickname change is kinda symbolic of that. I wanted to lighten things up a little bit and take things more with a grain of salt – and maybe laugh a little bit.
So, another reason why I really found it fitting for myself personally was because when I first started my MMA career, I had a lot of girls who would call me out or want to fight me because they thought I would be a pushover or a can, otherwise known as a "cupcake." And then I'd fight them and beat them. It was just kinda funny to me that they thought that just because I looked a certain way or I carried myself in a more feminine way – whatever it was – that I would be an easier fight. That wasn't the case, and I always used to hate it, but I kind of embrace it now.
Was changing your name from "Takedown" an attempt to move away from the image that you're just a wrestler?
Tate: Exactly, yes, that's another point too. I really feel that I've evolved a lot as more than just a wrestler. I've been fighting a lot longer than I've been wrestling, and I wasn't sure that the nickname fit anymore. I feel like I outgrew it.
You recently opened up a brand new website, mieshatate.com. What are your plans for the site?
Tate: I want to use it to connect with my fans better. I want them to have a place to come and find anything they want to know about me and my career in MMA. I want them to have a place where they can learn about me.
What will you putting up on the site?
Tate: Well, I'm going to do some blogs. I really want to get into video blogs. I also want to start a baking blog to let people in on my nutrition, and some healthy recipes and stuff like that. I'd like to show my fans what I eat on a regular basis. Just a little more insight on who I am – more than just when I step into the cage. How I prepare for fights, maybe even technique, move of the week or something like that where my fans could interact and learn.
That sounds familiar to what other fighters have done in the past as a way to connect with the fans.
Tate: Yeah, absolutely. Anyway I can keep my fans happy and interested and knowing about me. I feel like I have a lot of knowledge and insight to offer about MMA, and I'd love to share it. The website is a great place to do that.
How has APOCALYPSE MMA helped you in this whole process?
Tate: APOCALYPSE MMA designed my entire website. They literally did all of the legwork. Any insight that I had or things that I wanted along the way, he [Apocalypse MMA president Roger O'Brian] made sure to accommodate me. He made sure that it was my website, that it was what I wanted, and the way I wanted it. But he made everything so easy by literally doing all of it for me.
They designed the whole website. They put the pictures up; they did everything. They were asking along the way, "Hey, what do you think about this?" or "How about we do this?" or "Let me run this idea past you." And then I'd say yay or nay, and then they would get right on it. So, I definitely have a big thanks to APOCALYPSE MMA.
Is your rebranding also working towards the goal of becoming a marketable UFC fighter?
Tate: Yes, this is a big time for women's mixed martial arts, and I want to make sure that I have all of my ducks in a row. When I make the transition into the UFC, it's going to be a really big year for women's MMA, and I really want to be on top of that.
What are your other plans for your career? You've mentioned perhaps owning your own bakery, and we know you won't be fighting forever, so what are your plans?
Tate: Well, I've been branching out a little bit actually. I've been doing some color commentary. I guess I want to find a way to stay involved in MMA well past the years when I'm not fighting any more. But as far as the future holds, I think the possibilities are really endless. I'd love to own a gym one day; I'd also love to own a bakery. I'd love to stay involved in MMA as far as commentating or even trying to referee at some point. I don't know, but I definitely have love for the sport, and I don't think that will ever go away. But I would also take the opportunity to get into acting or fitness modeling or anything of those things.
Have there been some opportunities for you to act or model?
Tate: Yeah, actually. MMA is a great springboard for that kind of thing. I realize that I can't fight forever. I love fighting, but I realize that it's a relatively short career, and I would like to use it to set up future endeavors. Maybe something similar to what Gina has done.
You mentioned that it's going to be a big year for women's MMA. How do you see yourself and your role in women's MMA now?
Tate: I've played a relatively large role in advancing women's MMA, and I know a lot of the credibility goes elsewhere, but I know deep down what I put into it. Without me, I don't feel that it would be as far along as it is. I was fighting long before women's MMA was getting any kind of recognition, you know? Also, when you enter the cage, it takes two to tango. Ronda [Rousey] can't fight herself. So she can't get where she's at without girls willing to step in the cage and give her the effort. I definitely think I've played a heavy role in that.
Who do you believe are the top five pioneers for women's MMA? Who are the women who have furthered the game the most for you?
Tate: Definitely myself, Ronda, Gina Carano, Marloes Coenen, and Chris Cyborg. I started fighting long before women's MMA started getting any real recognition, so I helped develop it from the ground up. And I really put my heart into it. I really care, not just about myself, but about the success of women's MMA as a whole.
What about Rousey? What has made her the pioneer?
Tate: Ronda has been able to do something that no other female really has, and there's a certain level of respect for what she's been able to accomplish. You know, she's not only put in impressive performances in the cage, but she's been great at marketing herself. With the combination of the two, she's drawn a lot of interest and recognition for women's MMA. For that alone, I'm happy and somewhat thankful.
Do you think that it was Rousey's accomplishments that finally got the UFC to commit to a women's division?
Tate: I think Ronda had a huge part in it. I kinda think of her as she was given a platform, and she was able to do great things with it, including her marketing team and what not. Had Ronda come along six years ago, do I think she would be where she is today? Absolutely not, because there wasn't the kind of respect for women's MMA yet. That's something that has been in the works for a long time.
She came around at the right time with the right opportunity, and also I really believe that there wasn't really any other fight matchup for her other than mine at that point in time that would have garnered her that attention. So, I think that if I hadn't been there to play the devil's advocate or vice-versa to hype the fight along with her, then she wouldn't have found as much success. There's definitely more that goes into besides what Ronda has done, but with what she has, she's done well.
Why is Cris Cyborg on your list?
Tate: Well, Cyborg is the first woman to headline a major Strikeforce promotion in history, and her and Gina broke the record and held the record viewership and interest. She's so strong and so powerful that people kind of want to watch her out of pure fascination. That and she just brutally dominates girls. There's a certain shock value to her, that's for sure.
How has her testing positive for steroids hurt Cyborg in that respect?
Tate: It's not just for her, but it hurts all of women's MMA, you know? It hurts her, not only because she was suspended for a year, but she's not able to push women's MMA into the limelight whatsoever. If anything, her popping positive was somewhat detrimental to women's MMA because it gives it maybe a bad rap, that maybe women can't be successful or that they feel like they have to take certain illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Those are the top things that come into my head.
How do her accomplishments outweigh what she did and keep her in your top five?
Tate: I think she's one of the most wide-recognized female mixed martial artists, and for that reason, she really exploded on the MMA scene as this powerhouse. She took out Gina Carano, who at the time was at the time, the face of women's MMA. Whether you love her or hate her, most people know who she is.
Why is Gina Carano one of your MMA pioneers?
Tate: I think she's a great role model for all women coming into the sport. She fought hard; she fought well. She was pretty; she was polite. She spoke well. I think she really embodies what a true mixed martial artist should be.
And finally, why is Marloes Coenen one of your top five?
Tate: Marloes because she's probably been doing it longer than almost any female mixed martial artist I can think of. She fought Cyborg, and I think she gave her one of her most competitive fights. Then she dropped down to 135, and she captured that title for Strikeforce. Then she and I fought. We had a good battle, and even though I won, I still have a lot of respect for her as a fighter. I think she's great. Her record's great, and she's always been a good role model.
She's one of those ladies who doesn't get the most recognition, but to me as someone who is so involved in the sport and has followed women's MMA, when I started, I felt like she was where I am now. She's someone who I aspired to be like, even way back then. She's really put a lot into this sport, and for that, I really do admire her.
Why isn't Tara LaRosa in your list of top five women's MMA pioneers?
Tate: She's one of the pioneers, for sure, but I don't think she's meant as much for the sport as she could have. Most people don't know who she is, and when she starts talking, most people don't want to listen because what comes out of her mouth just doesn't sound – I don't know. People just don't want to hear her talk. I don't think her fights are the most exciting.
I give her credit for being one of the pioneers of women's MMA for sure. But being in the top five, I don't think she's been able to do as much for the sport. Regardless of her record and what she's done herself, she hasn't drawn the right attention to the sport.
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Interview conducted and article written by APOCALYPSE MMA's Head MMA Writer Derek Ciapala