Anticipation is at an all-time high for women’s bantamweight title challenger Miesha Tate with UFC 168 just a week away. Wanting to settle the score with current champion Ronda Rousey is the top priority on Tate’s list. After all, Tate was Rousey’s fifth victim in her string of seven first round armbar victories. In March 2012, when their first title tilt took place in Strikeforce, Rousey also walked away with Miesha’s belt.
At UFC 168 on Dec. 28, Tate’s only goal is to stake her claim as the UFC women’s bantamweight champion by knocking out Ronda.
“I just want it to be the day after the fight already,” Miesha said to a group of reporters on Friday. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to entering 2014 as a champion and it’s also exciting for me. I’ve just never felt so good about a training camp. I’ve never felt like it all came together at the right time, you know.
“As much as I wanted to win the first fight with Ronda, I think it almost worked out better this way. You know what I mean? ‘Cause I’m going to win it this time and it’s a bigger, better fight. So, it’s really awesome.”
“Cupcake” Tate has done her training in Las Vegas ahead of their Dec. 28 rematch, mostly at Xtreme Couture. According to Tate this is the best camp ahead of any fight she’s ever had. But more so than the physical aspects of preparation, Miesha feels that she’s mentally ready.
“I feel totally at peace. I feel calm. I’m excited. I feel like I have all the right emotions, like mentally stable and emotionally stable, I’ve never felt more ready. There’s no other time in my life that I’d want this fight to happen except for right now.”
The “mental warfare” Ronda deployed ahead of their first bout was what ultimately got the best of Miesha in all aspects. Had Miesha been able to keep Rousey out of her head, perhaps she wouldn’t have made mistakes that cost her the Strikeforce title.
Since that fateful night, Tate said she’s learned to how stay on track and not let “Rowdy” get into her head. After coaching TUF 18 opposite Rousey for 6 weeks, Tate believes the experience helped her prove that she isn’t a mark for Rousey and her head games.
“She used to be the fakest of fake, fake people – like ever. And then she gets on The Ultimate Fighter and what happened is that she was no longer able to manipulate me the way she was before,” Tate explained. “So before she’d come up to me and be this super, super fake nice and I would get pissed and put a scowl on my face and it’d be like the sun went away and all of a sudden I was in a black hole of hell. Soon as she walked in the room that’s what it felt like. And as soon as I made the choice that I wasn’t going to be dictated by her anymore, then all of a sudden it seemed to work in reverse.”
What Miesha thinks she’s discovered is that killing Ronda with kindness has allowed her to take control of the situation. In fact, Miesha thinks she’s turned the tables and sees Rousey as the one who’s struggling psychologically.
Physically, Miesha feels sharper than ever. She doesn’t just want to “defend an armbar for five rounds”. The goal at UFC 168 is to prove that she is better than Ronda in every phase of the game and wrap UFC gold around her waist.
“I’m prepared to do anything necessary to win this fight. I’ve trained everything. Obviously I have the wrestling. I feel like I have a very strong ground game that’s been really underestimated. So, I’ve been sharpening the things that I want to, that I feel like I need to,” said Tate. “But, you know, I just really want to punch her. And I would love nothing more than to get my first clean knockout with my hands on national television on the biggest pay-per-view…that would be amazing for me. I’d love it if she’d stand and trade with me. But I don’t think that she’ll want to, so we’ll see what happens.”
To elude making mistakes and not let her emotions get the best of her come fight night, Miesha’s chosen to treat her arch rival as just another opponent.
“She’s just going to be a body. A body in the way of my title and that’s the way I want to keep it. I want to stay emotionally uninvested. I want to get the knockout because I want to prove I’m that much better than her. That’s just a personal goal, it doesn’t necessarily have to do with the fact that she is somewhat an arch nemesis. It’s just what I want to do.”
When Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate collide at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Dec. 28, expect nothing more than fireworks. With two women who seem to detest each other more than anything else, this is only the calm before the storm.
UFC 168 features two title rematches. Rousey and Tate will do battle for the women’s bantamweight title in the co-main event and UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman puts his title on the line against Anderson Silva in the main event. Both fights will air on pay-per-view.
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