Miesha Tate is happy to be back where she belongs.
On Saturday, Tate returns to face Marion Reneau in Las Vegas, and she admits that overcoming adversity has helped her rediscover her love for the sport of MMA.
UFC Vegas 31 will be the 34-year-old's ninth UFC fight and first since she welcomed the arrival of son Daxton, who celebrated his first birthday earlier this year, with fellow MMA fighter Johnny Nunez.
Tate told MMA Junkie: “It’s like that old friend that you haven’t talked to in years, and you call him up and you haven’t skipped a beat.
"You know, that’s how I feel. I just feel at home with this. It’s very natural, and I’m the happiest to be here that I’ve been in a very long time.”
“I just had too much on my plate, and especially, like, baggage that I just really didn’t need. I needed to clear away things that were taking away from me as a person, as a human being.
"We’re all humans, and I think we’ve all been through rough patches in our life, right? So that was just a really rough time for me, and I just needed to step away and regroup – and I kind of identified that as with the sport.
"But to be honest, when I have taken this four years away and I look at it, I am more in love with the sport than I have ever been.
"So it wasn’t that, it was just the entanglement of everything, and that included this sport, and when I had to step away from the toxicity, that meant I had to step away from the sport, too, because I just didn’t know how to detangle the knot, you know, until I was outside of it.”
Returning after a five-year absence from UFC, Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Reneau will be a tough opponent for the 34-year-old.
However, Tate (18-7), 34, of Tacoma, Washington, said that she feels more than ready for their clash at the UFC's Apex facility.
She added: “I think Marion is great. I just really admire her. I think she’s very solid. I don’t think she has a lot of holes in her game.
"She’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu. She has that strong submission over Sara McMann – so impressive. She has a great submission over Jessica Andrade, and she stays in fights.
"You know, the fights she has lost have always been very close. She’s lost a number of split decisions.
“She’s been on the verge of being a contender a number of times, and she just didn’t get her break, but the way that I look at this fight and the Marion Reneau that I prepared for is is a mother who’s going to have her son in the corner for the first time, who’s going to look at somebody that matters between rounds and say, ‘I don’t want to let that person down.’
"You know what I mean? I could only imagine as a mother if I physically saw my children between the rounds – like, it’s going to charge her, and she’s going to come, and she’s going to bring it.”
"Cupcake" also went on to speak about why she is no rush to rematch Amanda Nunes, who beat her at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas back in July 2016.
Tate was submitted by the Brazilian Nunes, and subsequently lost her UFC bantamweight title.
She continued: “I just want to start with Saturday. I think it’s very important that I get that win and I don’t look too far ahead, you know?
"I am somebody who has short-term, mid-term, long-term goals, so there’s a way that I would like for it to go in a perfect world, but I know that I need to accomplish this.
“It’s imperative that I get this win for my trajectory, and, you know, I think it’s not unrealistic to say that if I have the performances that I’m planning on having, that it could be as little as three fights until I’m back into a title shot.
"If I’m beating [people] and I’m continuing to move up and I’m climbing the ranks, you know, that I think is a fair assumption, but I just want to start with Saturday, and see how that goes.”News Now - Sport News