The final question was meant as a joke, though given Miesha Tate’s history, it did have some relevance.
Have you, the former UFC and Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion was asked, saved anyone recently?
Tate, of course, in 2014 famously saved her boyfriend’s mother’s life while they were on vacation in Mexico.
A few months ago, Tate was out for a hike in Las Vegas and encountered a little girl who’d broken her arm. Tate carried the 6-year-old the 2.6 miles down the mountain where paramedics could get her treatment.
So when she was asked the question that really had nothing to do with her quest to regain her title or her fight with Raquel Pennington on Nov. 12 at UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden, a quick no was expected.
Of course, there was something.
Tate was driving the other day when she saw a woman struggling with a heavy load of packages. The woman was headed toward a hotel in Las Vegas. Instead of zipping on by, Tate rolled down her window and asked where the woman was headed.
When the woman said she was going to the hotel down the street, Tate urged her to hop in and eased her burden by driving her to the front of the hotel.
It’s one of those random acts that make Tate one of the most real, and most popular, UFC fighters.
She’s a two-time world champion, but she’s not this dominant superstar athlete like rival Ronda Rousey. She’s lost fights before, including some she should have won, but she’s an example to the average person more than the many world-class athletes in the UFC because of her perseverance and determination to get back.
And so she figures to receive a loud ovation from the crowd in New York when she opens the main card against Pennington, whom she coached on “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Tate scored the only final-round submission to win a championship in UFC history when she choked out Holly Holm as time wound down in their fight at UFC 196 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
But Tate didn’t have much time to enjoy the belt. Instead of waiting for Rousey to return, which would have been the most lucrative way to go, she opted to defend against the top available contender when she learned Rousey wasn’t ready for competition yet.
At UFC 200, which was billed at the time as the greatest card in the sport’s history, Tate defended the belt against Amanda Nunes.
The bout got elevated to the main event when Jon Jones failed a drug test and had to withdraw from his light heavyweight title bout with Daniel Cormier.
It added a bit of pressure, but in typical straight-talking Tate fashion, she offered no excuses. Her boyfriend and coach, UFC fighter Bryan Caraway, told MMA Junkie that he accepted the blame for problems that went on late in Tate’s training camp.
Tate would have none of it.
“There are definitely things that could have gone a lot better and I feel as if they fell apart a little at the very end,” she said. “I really don’t care to elaborate on it because I think people will see it as me making excuses and I don’t want to make excuses. There’s been many a time when many bad things have happened [during my training camp] and I’ve still gone out there and been able to perform.
“It’s not the be-all, end-all. When you have a bad day, when you have a bad camp, it’s your job to go out and forget it and perform. Me not doing so is really not anyone’s fault or responsibility other than mine.”
Tate was knocked out in the first round by Nunes in a fight she was never really in. She noted that being moved to the main event added a bit of pressure, but quickly added, “I still would have been fighting the same person on the same night for the same belt, no matter what, and she had to go through the same thing I did. So no excuses.”
Tate, despite the pummeling, showed up at the post-fight news conference to face the music, blood dripping from her nose every time she moved the towel away from it to speak.
That she was there, despite the disappointment of losing and the injuries she suffered, speaks volumes.
She’s set to face Pennington in her bid to get back. She’s had a cordial relationship with Pennington and heaped praise upon her. She sounded similar to Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who is notorious for making every Steelers’ opponent sound like the greatest team in NFL history, filled with future Hall of Famers.
Tate praised Pennington’s skills and noted her three-fight winning streak.
Tate will be in the mix for a title shot against the Nunes-Rousey winner should she get past Pennington, but Tate wouldn’t even contemplate that.
“She’s a hard worker, a strong girl and she’s very motivated,” Tate said of Pennington. “I’ve been around a long time and I know that when a fighter has the kind of work ethic she has and the talent that she has, that extra motivation of hearing people doubt her makes her an extremely dangerous opponent.
“I’m coming off a loss and I can’t afford to overlook anyone, but I know Raquel better than most and I know from first-hand knowledge how good she is. This is a tough, hard fight and I would be doing myself a disservice to consider any fight other than this one.”