Women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate‘s road to the top of the UFC women’s 135-pound division was a long and bumpy one.
“Cupcake” made her professional fighting debut in 2007. She ambitiously entered the BodogFIGHT 2007 Women’s Bantamweight Tournament and was knocked out during her second career bout in the semifinals of the same-night tournament. After the loss, she reeled off five consecutive wins, capturing the Freestyle Cage Fighting women’s bantamweight title.
The Washington native was signed by the now defunct Strikeforce organization in 2009. She lost her Strikeforce debut to Sarah Kaufman by unanimous decision and responded to the loss as she did after he first one; she went on a winning streak. Tate defended her FCF title and capped off a six-fight run by defeating Marloes Coenen to win the Strikeforce women’s 135-pound crown.
In her first title defense, Tate was beaten by then-rising star Ronda Rousey. She lost two of her next three fights, including a rematch with Rousey, before putting together four consecutive victories that landed her a second UFC title shot against Holly Holm at UFC 196 in March.
“I’ve come a long way in this sport. I’ve been training for a very long time. This has been a very long journey for me,” she said during a recent media conference call.
“I feel like that’s why I’m here today. There’s been a lot of up. There’s been a lot of down, but I feel like everything has forced me to be stronger for where I am today. If it wasn’t for the bumps in the road, and if it wasn’t for those hard times… all of those things made me stronger.”
Tate submitted Holm in the final round to capture the coveted title. The win catapulted Tate’s popularity and mainstream media recognition. Her media obligations have increased, but she’s just enjoying the long roller coaster ride.
“I’ve really enjoyed this whole process,” she said. “I feel like I’m right where I want to be. I’m just soaking it all in. It hasn’t been too much. My management has done such a beautiful job in helping me manage everything, and make sure that nothing is overwhelming. It’s been really running smoothly. I’m enjoying it.”
The 29-year-old champion puts her belt on the line at UFC 200 on July 9 against surging Amanda Nunes at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.