While her defeat to Raquel Pennington came as a shock to many this past weekend, the most unexpected revelation came soon after the bout, when the former Women’s Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate, announced her decision to retire.
No.1 ranked Tate was heavily favoured coming into the bout against No.8 Raquel Pennington. However she was unable to counter the slick boxing and clinical top game of the Colorado native, following a deep guillotine and crisp strikes in the second round.
The bombshell was dropped during the post fight interview with UFC colour commentator, Joe Rogan, to the stunned audience at Madison Square Garden. “It’s not my time right now, I’ve been doing this for over a decade,” Tate said. “Thank you so much for being here, I love this sport forever but it’s not my time anymore.”
With such a one sided decision loss only eight months after winning the title, Pennington, like Amanda Nunez, has once again proved just how fast the Women’s Bantamweight division is improving. But let’s not forget how we got here. When the women were introduced to the UFC in 2012, much of its success was dependant on the bitter rivalry between Tate and mega star Ronda Rousey.
Following her defeat to Rousey in Strikeforce, the pair met as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter season 18, where for the first time women fighters were included. Though Ronda won the subsequent fight, and rightly takes much of the credit for the building the Women’s division, it is important to recognise that much of her success could not have been achieved without such a charismatic and high level opponent.
A perennial underdog, Miesha Tate (18-7) was always at her best when she was overlooked. Most notably in her title victory over Holly Holm at UFC 196. The 30 year old showed a remarkable ability to battle through the vicious strikes of Holm, securing a takedown late in the fifth, and finishing with a rear naked choke. It was a shock. It was an upset. It was this gritty determination and refusal to give up that made her a champion, and one of the UFC’s most popular stars.
After Saturday’s contest, UFC president Dana White also paid tribute to the fighter saying, “Miesha’s been so tough and durable, and not a tough, durable woman, but a tough, durable athlete. She’s been in this for so long, and I could just tell when I talked to her tonight.”
Having achieved the pinnacle of the sport in both Strikeforce and the UFC, and with nothing left to prove, it makes sense for the former champion to hang up her gloves now. But make no mistake, Miesha ‘Cupcake’ Tate will always be remembered as a true warrior, and one of the most important contributors in the history of women’s MMA.
By Jamie McDonald