The world of mixed martial arts isn’t short of legendary names, but Miesha Tate is a powerhouse on her own right for many reasons.
Regarded as one of the greatest female mixed martial artists of all time, Tate’s name sits proudly on the wall of the sport’s Hall of Fame as a UFC and Strikeforce world champion, as well as FILA Grappling World Championships silver medalist. She also happens to be a pioneer of women’s mixed martial arts (MMA), and has been credited with helping to grow the sport around the world and serve as role model to future generations, alongside other greats such as Rhonda Rousey, Amanda Nunes, and Holly Holm.
Now 32, the Washington-born fighter has managed to put together what has to be the most impressive post-fight career of any MMA artist today. She’s the instructor at one of the island’s most prestigious gyms — Evolve MMA — and is the Vice President at ONE Championship in Singapore.
She might be three years retired now, but the former UFC Women’s Bantamweight champion doesn’t look a hair out of place there, and being a proud mother to a baby girl has clearly not diminished her passion for the sport, even though she adds that it’s nice to finally be able to do the things she enjoys most as part of her routine now. We’re talking 5km runs three times a week, regular strength and resistance training, and working on her favourite discipline — Brazilian jiu-jitsu — at least twice a week.
It doesn’t seem like Tate’s ready to slow down yet what with all the extra responsibility, but she credits her experience as fighter for keeping her in check both inside and out. “ Martial arts has taught me a lot about compartmentalisation. There are lots of factors in life that can get you distracted, but as a pro-athlete you have to be able to put them in compartments, and you open whichever one when it’s necessary. It’s taught me to focus on the task at hand and dealing with the rest when the time is appropriate,” she said.
It is this mentality that has led her to victories, her most life-changing one being the high-profile fight with Holm that saw her win in the fifth round. The rear-naked choke that gave her the technical submission she needed was the result of “throwing her whole game plan out of the window”, and it was a risk that paid off to give her championship title.
As for those who still have qualms about MMA, Tate adoringly likens it to a game of chess. “ The biggest misconception [about MMA] is that people have to hate each other or that it’s violent. I see it in a beautiful form of hand-to-hand combat, and more like a game of chess than anything else. It’s very much a game of strategy.”
“Fighting is for thinkers. Anybody can throw a punch, but being a professional fighter and athlete means that you’ve trained everyday in the disciplines of the offence and defence, and you’ll have to implement that knowledge in the best possible way in the ring. It’s not just a wild barbaric nature.”
Her current position at both Evolve MMA and One Championship means she now has to travel often for work, but counts her 5km runs as a consistent and attainable goal that motivates her to workout more when she’s away. She also packs resistance bands for her multitude of leg workouts, and consistently works with full body routines to keep her fitness in check.
Here are some of her favourite moves.
Shadow box for three 5-minute rounds, with one minute rest to mimic actual MMA fight rounds.
This is a great full body workout. Drop hands shoulder-width apart, kick feet out into a plank position, spring your feet back under your body and jump as high as possible into the air throwing your hands above your head. Do this for three to five sets of 10 reps.
Side step with resistance band
Get into a lowered stance, with your back straight and feet starting shoulder-width apart. Step out and focus on driving the knee against the resistance, making sure it doesn’t bend inwards. Do three to five sets of 10, five on each leg.
Hip thrust with resistance band
Start with your shoulder blades against a bench or floor and your arms spread across it for stability. Bend your knees to about 90 degrees, and make sure your feet are flat on the floor. Take a big breath in, blow your air out fully, and brace your core. Drive hips up and squeeze glutes at the top. Do three to five sets of 10.
Draw your stomach in towards your spine, being mindful there should be no coning of the abdominal muscle.
It’s very important the abs stay flat and engaged. You can place your hands on your stomach to feel if it’s totally flat. Bring both knees up and bend the knee at a 90-degree angle. Drop one heel to the ground while the other leg starts in place. Do five sets of 20 (10 each leg). Slow and steady is key here so don’t rush this through.