‘Please win’: Ex-UFC champ Miesha Tate thrills fans by announcing return against Marion Reneau almost 5 years after her last fight
'Cupcake' fought eight times in under three years with the UFC before emotionally declaring her retirement in November 2016, having lost by decisions to current champion Amanda Nunes and, in her final bout, Raquel Pennington.
Tate gave birth for a second time following her retirement in June and had been acting as a Vice President for One Championship, making the news that she will return against 43-year-old Marion Reneau on July 17 a huge surprise.
"My heart is full of passion," the 34-year-old former Strikeforce and FCF champion said in a text message to ESPN. "The fire has been lit. The sport has been calling for me – it's time I answer."
Former UFC bantamweight champion Miesha Tate is coming out of retirement, telling @bokamotoESPN on Wednesday that she has accepted a fight against Marion Reneau on July 17.The UFC has not announced the fight or an event on that date, but it is expected to be a UFC Fight Night. pic.twitter.com/yNYDiQ3Dem— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 24, 2021
The unexpected development inspired a deluge of excitable responses on social media, although there were concerns that Tate could struggle to recapture her former glories after such a long break.
Revisiting former UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov's withering recent appraisal of Tony Ferguson's delay between fights, one said: "Her layoff was too long. She's going to get smashed."
After winning nine of her first 13 professional fights, veteran Reneau has lost her last four encounters by decisions against high-level opponents including Pennington, Russian fighter Yana 'Foxy' Kunitskaya, Cat Zingano and, on Saturday in Las Vegas, Macy Chiasson.
"I knew that my last fight would be when I was 43 or 44 years old," Reneau said. "Granted, I feel amazing. I feel the best I've ever felt.
"But there just comes a time when I feel it's time to move on and in my mind, I always knew I would finish out my contract and that was going to be it.
"I can't think of a better situation, just because I like to say I grew up watching Miesha. She was one of my first idols when I started fighting.
"I used to dream about fighting her, and now it's coming to pass in what happens to be my last hoorah."
Looking ahead to her final bow, she added: "I will be finishing out my contract with the UFC this year.
"All I know is it was important for me to go out on my own. So thank you [UFC president] Dana White and [matchmaker] Mick Maynard for believing. I will bring every last f***ing thing I have in my last and final fight with your organization.
Her layoff was much to long, she’s going to get smeshed pic.twitter.com/Wfpux6BYeP— J (@mindjitsu) March 24, 2021
Dana is now writing checks since Khabib is retired. pic.twitter.com/9zfvC9i2t3— Heel Megh (@HeyMegh) March 24, 2021
"I have fought every last person you have put in front of me, multiple title contenders and former champions. I welcome my next and final challenge. Let's go and make some noise in this last fight of mine."
Tate, who has won 18 of her 25 fights, appeared to have already started training alongside heavyweight number one Francis Ngannou at the Xtreme Couture MMA gym in Las Vegas.
"Francis has been my friend since he came to Las Vegas some years ago now," she said ahead of Ngannou's headline scrap with Stipe Miocic on Saturday.
"I remember when he struggled to speak any English and I helped him set up his first company. He has always been the kindest, most humble human being.
"I had no idea of his hardships at that time. I had no idea he had to endure so much just to get to America but it’s these stories that move me.
"He is the example that anything is possible and I believe he will accomplish another dream this weekend of becoming a world champion."Also on rt.com All eyes on her: UFC's Jessica Eye bites back at trolls after becoming latest MMA star to launch OnlyFans page