Miesha Tate isn’t done yet.
The 37 year old former women’s bantamweight champion returned at UFC Austin after a year and a half off to beat the brakes off Julia Avila, finishing their fight with a third round neck crank (watch the highlights here). It’s the kind of win that throws her back into contention talk … as opposed to retirement talk, which was a lot of the talk coming into Texas.
Following the win, Tate explained her thought process coming into the must-win fight.
“I wanted this fight to be dominant,” she said at the UFC Austin post-fight press conference. “There was a part of me that realized that I haven’t been outside the top 10 rankings the entire time that I’ve been fighting in the UFC, so to see 12 next to my name, I was like, ‘You know what, I have a lot to prove in this fight.’ I had a lot to prove, and I thought I’m going to go out there and maybe for the first time in my career, I’m going to fight with as much of my skill as I can.”
“I had this real big burning desire in my heart to show who I am,” she explained in another interview with ESPN. “I’ve been recognized a lot for fighting with ‘heart’ and ‘being tough’ and tonight I wanted to fight with my skills. I’ve relied so much on the fact that I can take punishment but I’m so much better than that. I’ve been manifesting it: I am an athlete among women, I am an elite athlete, I have a skill set, I have a plan. I have a burning desire, especially when so many people were calling for retirement, I heard that word so many times.”
“Yes, I’ve been doing this for 18 years and tonight marks my 20th professional victory. But I’ll know when it’s time, and I knew tonight wasn’t the time. I’m still doing great, I still feel great.”
As for all that retirement talk, Miesha decided to use it as fuel for this fight against Avila.
“I definitely heard the word mumbled around by family because I think they want to see me be well and okay,” Tate said. “So I understand that. And then I heard a lot from fans comments, with media questions on should I retire. It’s like, no one else’s opinions really matter to me. But when you hear it, I have to digest it somehow. And the way I digested it? I’m going to prove everybody wrong. I’m going to show that no one else gets to dictate my future. That’s the choice I’ll make when I’m ready.”
So what’s next for Tate? An MRI on her knee, which she said popped when she took Avila’s back at the end of their fight. She’s hopeful that there’s no serious damage done, especially when she’s now back in the mix at women’s bantamweight. If the scan is clear, she said she’d love a rematch against Holly Holm. We’re down for anything that doesn’t involve a year plus layoff.