In her UFC Austin bout against Julia Avila, Miesha Tate faced high stakes, realizing that a loss would intensify calls for her retirement. Despite being on a two-fight skid, Tate, who emerged from a five-year retirement in 2021, felt compelled to prove her capabilities and silence critics who considered her washed up.
The former bantamweight champion dominated Avila over two rounds before securing a third-round submission, breaking her losing streak. Tate, who earned a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus, credits her fiance, Johnny Nunez, and wrestling coach Kirk White for her rejuvenated performance.
Reflecting on her journey, Tate acknowledges the difficulty of finding the right coaching dynamic since the passing of Robert Follis. She highlights White’s unique approach, emphasizing his ability to enhance her existing skills rather than introducing new techniques. Tate’s UFC career was initially guided by her then-partner, Bryan Caraway, but the pressure of maintaining that relationship led to a breakdown and her quitting inside the octagon at UFC 205.
Following her separation from Caraway and her retirement, Tate redefined her relationship with the sport. She built a new team, enlisted the help of a mental coach, and experienced a successful comeback with a win over Marion Reneau in 2021.
Tate’s recent victory against Avila showcased a shift in her approach. Instead of stubbornness, she focused on going with the flow and leveraging her grappling, acknowledging her tendency to underperform in fights despite excelling in training.
Heading into UFC Austin, Tate instructed her team not to overwhelm her with instructions and emphasized trust in their preparations. Despite some coaching mishaps, including a forgotten stool by White, Tate appreciated the unique coaching style that involved guiding her with insightful questions.
Unsure of how long her second career season will last, Tate is staying in the moment and taking things one step at a time. With a record of 2-2 since her comeback, she acknowledges the need for several more wins to approach the title, but she values doing things her way over UFC gold.