I'm going to cover the last two episodes of TUF – plus a little of what I've been up to lately – in this blog. I couldn't blog last week; I was up in the Pacific Northwest mountains with no cell phone signal or internet. I had friends in town who'd never been up there so we went up there for a week, saw a lot of awesome sights, visited ice caves and had a good time. The altitude was a good kick-start for my cardio, because I started my full training camp this week for the December 28 fight with Ronda Rousey.
I did see the Yahoo Sports story Kevin Iole wrote about how the ratings for TUF go up when there's a women's fight in the episode. I can't lie, it felt really good to see that the UFC fans, not only MMA fans but fans of the UFC who maybe hadn't seen any female fights before February of this year, look forward to watching the women fights so much. People like myself have been pushing, competing and promoting female MMA for a long time, and to see the fans accept a female division in the UFC so quickly is vindication that all that hard work amounted to something.
I'm a woman who's been in a man's sport since the age of 15 and to see people finally seeing what I saw right from the start, that female fighters are just as good "pound-for-pound" as our male counterparts. I feel a lot of pride in all female fighters – the UFC didn't do this half-assed when they decided to bring in the female division, they really put everything behind it – and we took that spotlight and proved we deserved it.
I felt that same sense of pride watching the amazing fight between Team Rousey's Jessamyn Duke and Raquel Pennington. It was a great three-round war, which showcased everything that is so exciting about female MMA. They showed heart, passion, courage and skill in what, in my opinion, is one of the best fights of the season.
The first round was close, but I feel that Raquel won the second round for sure. After the second round I told her that there may be a third sudden-victory round because the first round was close. When Dana said we were going to sudden victory, I told Raquel to go for it. As a coach, you have maybe 50 seconds of time between rounds to give advice and instructions. Sometimes it is a matter of technical advice but in this fight I felt Raquel was doing everything right, she just needed more of it.
I also felt that while some coaches try to calm their fighter down, now was the time to fire her up. I lit that fire under her ass. I told her this is five minutes for the rest of her life. I told her to go forward, break that girl down and show all your heart.
I knew she'd won that fight after the third round. I give Jessamyn a lot of props because she was getting her butt kicked in that final round, but she fought back with whatever she had left. She was clearly exhausted but she left it all in the cage.
I loved that fight. It was a pure raw power, it was a display of heart, passion and skill and it said so much about female MMA.
Afterwards, I went to shake Ronda's hand. The gesture was one of solidarity, "You and I were a part of another great female fight, this is what female fighting is all about and these two women we trained just did every female fighter proud". But, instead, Ronda flipped me off. I'm kinda happy they showed that on TV because Ronda did it at least 20 times before then and it was edited out. But, honestly, she stuck her finger up to me literally every time she saw me for weeks and weeks.
While I find it interesting that this was really the first time the producers showed Ronda flipping me off, I really think the viewers are getting to see the real Ronda this season – and it's not pretty. She's got a great skillset and as an athlete she's awesome. But she's not interested in building female MMA, she's interested in building Ronda MMA and then leaving for movies or something else.
She isn't an MMA fan at heart. Shayna was the only fighter out of the 16 women who fought to get in the house that Ronda had heard of. The other girls, Ronda had no clue who they were, what they had done, where they had fought, nothing.
That's all cool, everyone wants to get ahead in life and I'm not saying she hasn't worked hard for years and years to become a great fighter with an amazing skillset. But I don't understand her attitude at all.
There's a responsibility to represent female MMA that comes with being the champion, just as there's a responsibility to represent and promote the show when you coach TUF. It grates on my nerves that Ronda isn't promoting this season, which fans are saying is the best for a while, because that's what we as established fighters signed on to do: to share the spotlight with these fighters who desperately want to join us in the UFC.
No one would have turned down a Hollywood movie without giving it a lot of soul-searching, but surely Ronda could do phone interviews or at least tweet about TUF. They have cell phone reception in Europe, don't they?
On the episode before last week, our fighter Louis Fisette was obviously at a major size disadvantage going into his battle with Team Rousey's David Grant. Louis, who really should be a 125 lbs. fighter, going against Grant, who is not only one of the best fighters in the house but also, by far, the biggest 135 lb-er in the in the house.
How Grant makes 135 lbs. I will never know, but he uses that size to his advantage very well. He was Ronda's No. 2 pick while Louis lost his fight to get into the house but was called back to replace our last pick. I was actually shocked at the strength difference; David at one point had his back against the cage and literally picked my fighter up and spun him around mid-air. The amount of power it takes to do that from that position is incredible. I think maybe Louis was a little too timid in there, maybe he was more nervous knowing he was coming off a loss, or maybe when he hit David and David didn't budge it surprised him. Whatever it was, he didn't fight the way I've seen him fight in the past.
It was frustrating to see that fight; I just watching thinking Louis should be at 125 lbs. Now Ronda doesn't have David - one of the favorites - to fight any of my top guys so I wasn't totally concerned it was now 2-2 in fights.
As you saw, we played a joke on Edmund from Ronda's team. We left a toy "Count", a vampire toy, in their dressing room attached to a free eyebrows-r-us waxing treatment. Believe or not, on the World Press Tour I did with Ronda, she accused me of being racist because of this. She said I was being racist because I made fun of the fact that Edmund looks a little like the Count from Sesame Street. She said: "Miesha isn't gonna have any Armenian fans once they see TUF."
Really? What's being Armenian got to do with this joke? Dracula is from Transylvania and the Count himself is from Sesame Street. But that shows you how bad Ronda knows she comes off on the show and that she is really reaching for any negative thing to throw at me. Calling people a racist isn't something you should do lightly, though, and I didn't take kindly to Ronda insinuating that I'm racist.
Leaving the toy there was intended to poke fun at Edmund. He had been an ass up to that point and we wanted to irritate him, but it wasn't malicious. You guys have all seen TUF before; this wasn't nearly as bad as some of the pranks from previous seasons. It wasn't tar and feathering, it wasn't towing their cars, it wasn't even throwing water on them. I think we knew by then that any of those types of practice jokes and pranks would result in "Team Emotional" going crazy.
It was funny Ronda saying they couldn't possibly show Edmund the joke because there's no way she could hold him back if he saw it. Weird. She had no trouble holding him back with one hand when he was trying to look tough the week before with Dennis Hallman.
People have asked me what I've learned about Ronda from doing TUF with her. Basically, I've learned she's a lot more emotionally unstable that I ever could have realized if I didn't see her day-in, day-out for six weeks. I've learned that I can work her from a different angle, from a psychological angle.
I've never used "psychological warfare" in my career before. This is an unexplored aspect of the sport for me. I've never tried to get an opponent crazy or emotional on purpose to mess with their preparation or distract them. I know Ronda tried - and to a point succeeded - in making me emotional ahead of the first fight. She has said that's how she beat me the first fight.
However, now I've left that anger, that dislike of her behind me, she can't affect me emotionally like she did when we fought in Strikeforce. And what I think is happening is that because she can't have this effect on me, it is almost like she's become more emotional instead. I didn't go into TUF wanting to make her go crazy, to cry all the time, to get furious and scream all the time, but that's what happened. I think it is a huge mental victory for me ahead of our December 28 fight to know that, one, she can't get inside my head anymore and, two, to know how fragile she is emotionally.
The competition was now 2-2 but we were still confident in our team and that we were preparing to win this thing better than the other team as we’d already talked about going 3-2..
If there's anything you'd like me to cover in next week's column, hit me up on twitter at @MieshaTate.
The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs Team Tate continues Wednesday's 7/10pm on Fox Sports 1.
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