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Tate talks Coenen, Team Alpha Male and the future for women’s MMA


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HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. -- If Miesha Tate walks away with the Strikeforce women's bantamweight championship belt this weekend, she has Sarah Kaufmann to thank. Tate dropped a decision to Kaufmann at a Strikeforce Challengers show in 2009, and since that fight, has developed a different mindset about her fights.

"That fight taught me a lot about confidence," Tate said at an open workout before the Strikeforce bouts on Saturday night. "I doubted myself. In all my fights since then, I've learned that you have to believe in yourself 100 percent. I could be fighting Cyborg tomorrow, and I'd be 100 percent confident that I was going to beat her. I'm going to go out there and do the best I can, and lay it all out on the line, and ideally, I'll walk away with that belt."

That mindset helped her earn five straight wins and a title shot against Marloes Coenen this Saturday night. Coenen's last bout was a fourth-round submission over Liz Carmouche, after Carmouche had controlled the entire bout. Tate says that fight doesn't represent Coenen's true abilities.

"I've seen Marloes fight a lot before that and I feel like she didn't look like herself in that fight. I've seen her look better, and I can only assume that she's going to come in stronger for that fight."

But she did see a weakness that she can exploit: Coenen's lack of wrestling experience. {YSP:MORE}

"She doesn't have that element developed in her game, and that's where I come from. I wrestled for four years before I started fighting. Even if she went home and trained nothing but wrestling since her last fight, you can't learn wrestling in a couple of months. I think it's going to be a struggle for her, and whenever we grab a hold of each other, I'm going to win."

To build on that wrestling background, Tate worked with a camp full of wrestlers who have made a successful transition to mixed martial arts. Her training with Urijah Faber's camp, Team Alpha Male, has prepared her mentally and physically.

"They understand that it's so much more than being physically ready. They have this great mental outlook on life and on fighting, and I think that's where most of the fight is won, in your head and your heart, before you ever get out there."

The pressure's on female fighters

Both Coenen and Tate have an extra pressure on them this weekend. Since Zuffa's purchase of Strikeforce, the future of women's MMA is unknown. Though Strikeforce has long been a big supporter of female fighters, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta have been lukewarm, saying that there isn't enough depth.

Tate is looking at her spot on the main card of a televised event as a chance to show that women's MMA does deserve a future.

"It's not exactly pressure, though. I don't feel pressure, I feel really motivated. I feel like this is our opportunity, so I want to make the most of it. I feel like there's going to be a lot of people paying attention to this, and Dana and Lorenzo and all the guys in the UFC, and Zuffa will maybe start giving women a little recognition, and actually taking notice of it and what it's all about."

With this fight, she isn't setting out to become the face of women's MMA, but she's is proud to help her sport grow.

"It's not my main goal to be the face of MMA, but I love the idea that I have the opportunity to play a huge role in women's MMA, and I'd gladly accept that responsibility. I feel like I'm a good representation of it. I work hard. I'm going to go out there and fight. I'm happy when I can get out there and voice a little bit for the women."

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