Of all the notable stories that spilled out of #UFC205 -- #YoelRomero's near-decapitation of New York's own #ChrisWeidman, the war that was Woodley vs. Thompson, and #ConorMcGregor's flawless victory over #EddieAlvarez among them -- the sudden and somewhat shocking retirement of Miesha Tate seems to be the one that has gone largely overlooked in the days that have followed.
Maybe it was the nonchalant, almost spontaneous manner in which Tate made the announcement that's to blame. Following her unanimous decision loss to former #TUF18 pupil #RaquelPennington that night, Tate was quick to admit that retirement wasn't exactly something she had been considering until the scorecards had been read, telling Joe Rogan that "I had a lot more to give but I couldn't pull it out of myself. It’s been a long time. I’ve taken a lot of punishment. I still love this sport. I love you guys so much, thank you, but that’s it for me.”
Or maybe it was the dizzying speed in which Tate went from a UFC champion -- having captured the belt in an incredible come-from-behind victory over #HollyHolm just 7 months ago -- to a fighter struggling to keep up with the "new wave" of the sport that made her decision all the harder to register. Even Pennington was caught off guard by the reveal, telling reporters after the fight that "if she was gonna go out with a retirement, I wouldn't exactly agree with going out with a loss."
Regardless, it would appear that "Cupcake" is truly serious about calling it a career, which begs the inevitable question about what kind of "legacy" she'll be leaving behind. In my eyes, it's something close to what MMAJunkie's Ben Fowlkes describes as "a bridge between eras" of women's MMA.
With a 25-fight career spanning back to the HooknShoot tournament days of the mid 2000's, Tate is one of the few fighters who managed to maintain a reputation as a top fighter through both the unforgiving early days of the sport and the glorious era that we're currently living in.
This is a woman who was almost literally fighting for peanuts when she first started out in the sport, and ended up not only serving as one half of the rivalry that helped bring women's MMA to the UFC -- I like to think of her as the female Stephan Bonnar to #RondaRousey's Forrest Griffin in that regard -- but a champion in both #Strikeforce and the UFC, and the headliner of one of the biggest cards in promotional history: #UFC200
Though she's only been knocked out twice in her career, Tate has overcome and battled back from more violent and one-sided beatings than arguably any other figure in women's MMA. This is a fighter who not only had her arm all but ripped from its socket by Rousey on two separate occasions, but got boxed up by Julie Kedzie, outgrappled by Marloes Coenen, and nearly flatlined by Sara McMann, before somehow finding a way to win in nearly all of those occasions. Her title-earning victory over Holm at #UFC196 couldn't have possibly come in any other way than it did, which makes it all the more surprising to see her hang up her gloves just two fights later.
It's that kind of toughness that will forever define Tate's legacy to me. Though she's been occasionally written off as a second fiddle to Rousey by some of the sport's more narrow-minded fans, her durability inside the Octagon simply can't be denied when looking back on her career. Let's hope that she's able to carry that tenacity over to whatever awaits her next.
In honor of Miesha's legendary career, UFC Fight Pass is offering eight of her fights for free on their digital streaming service.