With flyweight ‘error’ in rearview mirror, Miesha Tate confident she’s still one of UFC’s best bantamweights

AUSTIN, Texas – Miesha Tate knows she’s closer to the end of her career than the beginning.

A pioneer of women’s MMA and a former UFC women’s bantamweight champion, Tate (20-9 MMA, 6-6 UFC) uses her experience and longevity in the sport to view it in a new light. Saturday at UFC on ESPN 52, she returns to bantamweight after a one-off at flyweight in July 2022.

“(I feel) so good,” Tate told MMA Junkie and other reporters at a pre-fight news conference Wednesday. “I’ve been able to keep my caloric intake very high this training camp. I never had to go on a severe deficit, which is great. Making 125, I’m proud of myself. It just goes to show when I set my mind to something, I can do it. That was not easy.”

With that pride, however, Tate realized the sizable weight cut was not for her. She revealed it caused hormonal issues and caused her to be unhealthily lean. Her performance was largely one-sided in the wrong direction when she was bloodied by Lauren Murphy over the course of three rounds.

In the grand scheme of things, Tate isn’t reading too much into the loss – especially now that she’s back at her more natural weight class against Julia Avila (9-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC). A win Saturday could inch her closer to a title shot, one that Tate doesn’t view all that far away.

“I kind of really look at my career as a 135er and just say, ‘Look: 125 was an error,'” Tate said. “I wouldn’t know how I would do unless I tried it. I tried it and I didn’t like it. … I’ve had one very dominant win and finish and I’ve had one very close decision in my second fight back for five rounds in a main event against a top-five-ranked fighter after five years of not doing anything.

“I think if that doesn’t speak to volumes of how close I am to being one of the best in the world, then maybe people are being a bit short-sighted just looking at a piece of paper. I really think that fight, my second-to-last fight, really could’ve gone either way. I think it was very close – very close. I’m still there. I’m still competing very closely with the best women in the division.”

Tate, 37, was introspective when she spoke Wednesday. She analyzed the past and voiced confidence in the present, but also seemed to accept the future – even if she’s not really sure what it holds.

“At some point, this chapter is going to close,” Tate said. “I certainly think I’m much closer to the end of it than I ever have been before. But it didn’t stop with my last fight. I don’t know if it will stop with this fight. I really feel like with any fight at any point, it could be my final fight. I’m OK with that because I’ve built an emperor-worthy life where these wins and losses don’t define me any more. It’s not just everything, like it used to be. Don’t take that the wrong way. I have worked my butt off for this next camp and I want to win this fight more than anything. I’ve worked so hard and I’ve sacrificed and I’ve loved the process. I want to win and I really believe I’m going to.

“But again, I’m much more effort-based than ever before. If I win on Saturday, that’s what I think is meant to be. But if I didn’t, guess what? I wake up on Sunday, my kids are still going to be kissing me. My fiancé is still going to be there. My parents are here. We’re going to go enjoy Austin, Texas. I guess having that mental and emotional flexibility as an athlete gives me a unique and freeing perspective on being able to go in and just have fun – just fight.”

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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie