Outside of MMA, Tate has modeled for numerous websites and publications, including ESPN The Magazine and Fitness Gurls. She is featured as a playable character in the video game EA Sports UFC. In 2015, Tate was announced as a cast member in the feature film Fight Valley. Her fighting style, which focused on wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, has earned praise from multiple peers and media outlets. Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White has credited Tate's fight with Ronda Rousey on March 3, 2012 as the key factor in the creation of women's divisions in the UFC.
Tate's final victory in MMA came on March 5, 2016, when she won the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship after beating Holly Holm via technical submission. On July 9, 2016, she lost the UFC title to Amanda Nunes at UFC 200. In November 2016, she announced her retirement from MMA after a loss by decision to Raquel Pennington at UFC 205.
Post retirement, Tate has shown interest in competing in no-gi grappling matches, the first of which was against former MMA opponent Jessica Eye at Submission Underground 2, which Tate won in overtime. Tate has also signed a contract with Fox Sports, joining the UFC analytical desk for FS1.
Tate was born in Tacoma, Washington. A tomboy during her youth, she often socialized with the boys in her neighborhood on playgrounds. While attending Franklin Pierce High School, Tate sought a sport to participate in, and eventually chose amateur wrestling over basketball. She wrestled on the boys' team from her freshman year until graduation. "I got my butt kicked pretty hard for the first few weeks. I had no idea what I was doing, like a fish out of water," Tate recalled in 2011. During her senior year in 2005, she competed in the girls' state championship and won the title.
While Tate was attending Central Washington University, a friend of hers encouraged her to attend the mixed martial arts (MMA) club with her. "I went there, and it really was a bunch of wrestlers. I fit right in," Tate said. Upon joining, Tate became fascinated with Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a submission-based martial art which, like wrestling, is largely performed on the mat.
In addition to grappling, mixed martial arts permits the use of strikes, which are forbidden in wrestling. Victory is usually achieved via a judges' decision, a stoppage due to strikes, or by forcing an opponent to submit. Tate was initially wary of competing in MMA, explaining that she "didn't want to get punched." After seeing her training partners perform in actual competition, Tate was encouraged to accept her first amateur bout in March 2006, in which she was matched against Elizabeth Posener, a Muay Thai specialist.
During the first round, Tate wrestled Posener to the mat, but did not strike while holding her there, which prompted Tate's trainers to remind her to. In the second round, Posener bloodied Tate with a knee from inside a clinch. While looking back on the fight in 2012, Tate noted, "I finally realized what I was there to do, and accepted the harsh truth—this wasn't a wrestling match...it was a fight". Tate escaped a submission attempt and responded by "whaling down punches" while Posener was on her back for the remainder of the round. Despite her eagerness to continue, Tate's corner ended the bout after the second round due to the injury she'd sustained. Tate later commented, "When I get hurt or damaged, I fight that much harder."
She amassed a 5–1 amateur record in MMA before turning pro.
Tate made her professional debut in mixed martial arts in November 2007 at the one-night HOOKnSHOOT Women's Grand Prix. She defeated Jan Finney by decision, but was knocked out later in the night by a head-kick from eventual tournament champion Kaitlin Young. Throughout 2008 and 2009, Tate went on to record wins in several small organizations which did not regularly televise fights, defeating Jamie Lyn Welsh in CageSport MMA, Jessica Bednark in Freestyle Cage Fighting (FCF), and Dora Baptiste in Atlas Fights.
Tate captured the 135-pound FCF Women's Bantamweight Championship by defeating Liz Carreiro at Freestyle Cage Fighting 30 on April 4, 2009. After being knocked down in the first round, Tate gained control of the fight in the second and submitted Carreiro in the third. She defended the title once, defeating Valerie Coolbaugh by first-round armbar submission at FCF 38 in January 2010.
On June 27, 2008, Tate debuted in Strikeforce, an MMA promotion based in San Jose, California, which televised bouts on Showtime and CBS. Fighting in the 135-pound bantamweight division, Tate defeated Elaina Maxwell by unanimous decision at Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Thomson.
After winning the FCF title in April 2009, she returned to Strikeforce at Strikeforce Challengers: Evangelista vs. Aina on May 15, 2009. Tate was originally scheduled to face Kim Couture, but Couture withdrew from the fight due to undisclosed reasons and Tate was matched up against Sarah Kaufman instead. In a competitive fight, Tate was defeated by unanimous decision, which marked the first time that Kaufman had gone to a decision.
After stepping away to defend her FCF title in January 2010, Tate faced Zoila Gurgel at Strikeforce Challengers: Johnson vs. Mahe on March 26, 2010. Tate won the fight by armbar submission in the second round.
Tate was then included in a one-night Strikeforce women's tournament on August 13, 2010 at Strikeforce Challengers: Riggs vs. Taylor. A random drawing was held on the day of the weigh-ins to determine first-round match-ups and Tate faced Maiju Kujala in the opening round of the tournament. She defeated Kujala by unanimous decision after two rounds to advance to the tournament final. She then defeated Hitomi Akano by unanimous decision after three rounds to become Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Tournament Champion.
Tate was scheduled to challenge Marloes Coenen for the Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Championship on March 5, 2011, but withdrew from the fight after suffering a knee injury in training. The fight was rescheduled for Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson on July 30, 2011. Going into the bout, Tate laughed while stating, "I'm going to try to kill her, I really am. I'm going to try to get to the point where the referee is fearful [for] her life and stops the fight. That's my goal." Coenen, known for her jiu-jitsu pedigree, had never been submitted in a mixed martial arts bout. In the fourth round, Tate defeated Coenen via submission (arm-triangle choke) to become the new champion.
Following the fight, Tate stated, "I think I'm not in reality quite yet. I can't believe that I have a belt to take home with me. I really had to dig deep those last couple rounds. Like I said, I had a tough end to my training camp, but I just feel like I went out there and I did what I needed to do and I won the fight and I'm world champion."
Tate's first title defense was expected to be against former opponent Sarah Kaufman. However, Ronda Rousey, a new Strikeforce fighter, offered to fight Kaufman for the top-contender spot, seeking a title shot against Tate specifically. "I really want to have a title fight against Miesha Tate. I don't want to take a risk on her losing," Rousey said.
Rousey later explained that she believed a title fight between herself and Tate would garner significant attention. Strikeforce officials eventually announced that Rousey would be Tate's first challenger.
As Rousey predicted, her bout with Tate was highly publicized in the months preceding it. Rousey had made her MMA debut in early 2011 and defeated all four of her opponents by first-round armbar submission. However, Tate did not believe that Rousey had earned a title shot, and felt that Rousey was largely gaining the opportunity due to being "pretty." The two engaged in a variety of trash-talk, with Rousey stating that she was "bored" while watching Tate's win over Coenen. Ultimately, Tate and Rousey headlined a Strikeforce show on March 3, 2012. This marked a then-rare occurrence of women being placed in the main event of an MMA card. The bout was televised on Showtime and introduced by Jimmy Lennon, Jr. Shortly after the fight began, Tate escaped Rousey's first armbar attempt and retaliated with strikes. After a back-and-forth session of grappling, Tate lost the title when Rousey secured a second armbar near the end of the first round, forcing her to submit.
Tate was criticized by the media for risking long-term damage to her arm by resisting the armbar for several moments. Rousey later stated, "Miesha impressed me, she's a tough chick 'cause that hurts. I've had my elbow dislocated before and that's no fun. The rule in judo is even if it's dislocated if they don't tap, then keep going."
Tate then faced Julie Kedzie at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman on August 18, 2012. In a striker-versus-grappler match-up, Tate endured two head-kicks and was knocked down twice. She subdued Kedzie with a fight-ending armbar in the third round.
Following Strikeforce's fold, Tate officially joined the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in February 2013. Company president Dana White credited her fight with Rousey for bringing women's MMA to the promotion. The UFC announced that she would face Cat Zingano on April 13 at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale.
Regarding her long-term goals, Tate said, "Becoming a champion means more to me than anything—more than a rematch, more than anything. That's something that when I'm 80 years old someday and I have kids and grandkids I can look back and say, 'Look, this is what I did. This is my accomplishment.' So that's my ultimate goal."
Prior to the fight, it was revealed that the winner of Tate vs. Zingano would receive a title shot against Ronda Rousey, who became the inaugural UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion due to Strikeforce and the UFC being owned by the same company. It was also revealed that the winner would coach against Rousey on the 18th edition of The Ultimate Fighter, a UFC reality show.
Despite winning the first two rounds, Tate lost in the final round by TKO. Tate argued that the stoppage was premature. The back-and-forth action earned both women a Fight of the Night bonus. On May 28, it was announced that Zingano had withdrawn as Rousey's opponent and opposing coach after suffering a knee injury which required surgery, and had been replaced by Tate.
Prior to their rematch, Rousey expressed respect for Tate's fighting ability, and declared her appreciation for their rivalry. Tate remarked, "We have our definite disagreements, but I give her credit for what she's done and where she's got in the sport of women's MMA. Without her, I don't think we'd be as far so I do value that."
The rematch took place at UFC 168 on December 28, 2013. The fight was largely one-sided, in Rousey's favor, though Tate did manage to take Rousey beyond the first round, coming back from several of Rousey's takedowns and even causing the crowd to rally behind her towards the end of round 2. After escaping two submission attempts, Tate lost to an armbar in the third round.
Tate faced Liz Carmouche in the co-main event at UFC on Fox: Werdum vs. Browne on April 19, 2014. She won the fight via unanimous decision, earning her first win in the UFC. Tate then faced promotion newcomer Rin Nakai at UFC Fight Night: Hunt vs. Nelson on September 20, 2014. She won the fight via unanimous decision, making Tate 2-2 in the UFC.
Tate faced Sara McMann at UFC 183 on January 31, 2015. Tate surprised many in the MMA community by out-grappling McMann, an Olympic medalist in wrestling, for the majority of round 3, winning the fight by majority decision (29-28, 29-27, 28-28). Following Tate's third UFC victory, FoxSports.com declared that Tate had "proven to be the top fighter in the world at 135 pounds outside of the champion".
On March 20, 2015, it was announced that Tate would face Jessica Eye in a bout on July 25, 2015 at UFC on Fox: Dillashaw vs. Barão 2. Given the significance of the fight, which was initially promoted as a top-contender bout, Tate remarked that she expected "the best Jessica Eye that anyone has ever seen," and called Eye a tough opponent. Tate won the fight by unanimous decision.
On November 14, 2015, Holly Holm defeated Rousey for the UFC Bantamweight Championship. In January 2016, the UFC announced that Tate would be the first title defense for Holm at UFC 196 on March 5, 2016. After a back-and-forth four rounds that saw both fighters displaying an advantage, Tate defeated Holm via a technical submission due to a rear-naked choke in the fifth round to become the new UFC Bantamweight Champion. The win also earned Tate her first Performance of the Night bonus award.
Following Tate's victory over Holm, UFC president Dana White quickly announced that Tate's first title defense would be against Ronda Rousey at a yet-to-be-determined event later in 2016. However, on April 6, White revealed that Tate would instead fight Amanda Nunes in her first title defense at UFC 200 on July 9, 2016. In this fight, Nunes defeated Tate via a rear-naked choke hold three minutes into the first round to become the new Women's Bantamweight Champion.
Tate fought Raquel Pennington at UFC 205 on November 12, 2016. Prior to the event, Tate stated that she intended to take a hiatus from MMA after the bout. She also agreed to a grappling-only rematch with Jessica Eye at a Submission Underground show on December 11, 2016. After losing to Pennington via unanimous decision, Tate announced her retirement from mixed martial arts. "It's not my time right now, I've been doing this for over a decade. Thank you so much for being here, I love this sport forever but it's not my time anymore," she said after the fight. She received a loud ovation from the crowd at Madison Square Garden amidst her departure.
After retiring from MMA, Tate won her grappling bout with Eye on December 11.
Prior to Tate's announcement, Damon Martin of FoxSports.com noted that Tate had created "a legacy that will be hard to match by any fighter walking behind her." After UFC 205, football player Larry Fitzgerald commended Tate on a "great career", while wrestling commentator Jim Ross praised her athleticism. Numerous fighters, including Kailin Curran and Dan Hardy, expressed respect for Tate. Tate's final opponent, Raquel Pennington, also expressed admiration for Tate's legacy. Dave Doyle of Yahoo! Sports called Tate "one of mixed martial arts' most popular stars, in large part because of her toughness and resilience. She may not have had her rivals' standout technical skills, like Ronda Rousey's judo and Holly Holm's boxing, but her heart in the heat of battle just might be unmatched among fighters of either gender."
Tate was known for her extensive knowledge of ground-based arts, including wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and submission defense; her wrestling-heavy style lead to her first nickname, "Takedown". In July 2011, Tate won the Strikeforce Bantamweight Championship by becoming the first woman to ever submit Marloes Coenen in an MMA bout. During her win at UFC 183, Tate out-grappled Olympic wrestling medalist Sara McMann. She is also noted for being the first fighter to escape Ronda Rousey's armbar on multiple occasions. Following their first bout in March 2012, Rousey described Tate as "much more savvy on the ground than I anticipated."
Tate was noted for her double-leg takedowns, usually performed by picking an opponent up while pressing them against the cage. From top position, she typically attacked from side control as opposed to mount; in a rear position, she would usually secure a body triangle and attack with strikes. Having won multiple titles in wrestling, Tate was well known for her power on the ground, which often allowed her to hold opponents in vulnerable positions.
Tate has extensive training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. When attacking from her guard, she usually attempted an armbar or a triangle choke. She employed a variety of submissions while grappling with opponents, including heel hooks, guillotines, and kimura locks. During her fight against Julie Kedzie, she also used a triangle to transition to mount.
Numerous media outlets, including Yahoo! and FoxSports.com, described her ground game as "powerful" and "dominant," noting that Tate's opponents were often overwhelmed if taken down. Julie Kedzie typically avoided going to the ground with Tate throughout the duration of their fight. During their bout at UFC 168, Ronda Rousey repeatedly blocked and reversed Tate's takedown attempts.
While standing, Tate typically used left jabs, left hooks, a right cross, an overhand right, and knees from a clinch.
Tate's technique has earned the admiration of numerous peers. Following their bout in April 2013, Cat Zingano stated, "To be honest, I looked up to Miesha since I started this sport." Rousey has described Tate as "an amazing fighter."
Tate appears in the award-winning mixed martial arts documentary Fight Life. The film is directed by James Z. Feng and was released in 2013. The film's DVD bonus materials include a featurette on Tate and boyfriend Bryan Caraway. Tate is featured as a playable character in the video game EA Sports UFC. In 2015, Tate was announced as a cast member of the feature film Fight Valley, which follows women competing in an underground fight club.
She appeared nude in the 2013 ESPN Body Issue, and also appeared on the December 2013 cover of Fitness Gurls magazine, which labeled Tate "the most beautiful woman in MMA."
In 2014, Tate became the second MMA fighter (after Donald Cerrone) to join NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick's KHI Management company. Afterward, Tate gained sponsorship deals with NASCAR and Budweiser.
Tate is a fan of the Seattle Seahawks. Tate attended Central Washington University, alongside her former trainer and her ex-boyfriend Bryan Caraway. In 2014, Tate was credited with saving the life of Bryan Caraway's mother, Chris Caraway, when the latter suffered an asthma attack while scuba diving, stopped breathing and became completely unresponsive.
On September 5, 2016, she helped carry a 6-year-old girl with a broken arm while hiking in Nevada.Ultimate Fighting Championship
UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship (One time)
Fight of the Night (Two times) vs. Cat Zingano, Ronda Rousey
Performance of the Night (One time)
Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Championship
Strikeforce 2010 Women's Bantamweight Tournament Winner
Freestyle Cage Fighting
FCF Women's Bantamweight Championship
World MMA Awards
Female Fighter of the Year, 2011
Comeback of the year 2016
2013 WMMA Fight of the Year vs. Ronda Rousey on December 28
2009 World Team Trials Silver Medalist
2008 FILA Grappling World Championships Senior Women' No-Gi Silver Medalist
2008 World Team Trials National Grappling Champion