Ex-UFC champion Miesha Tate to return to cage with ONE Championship

Tate won the UFC bantamweight title in 2016.
Tate won the UFC bantamweight title in 2016. Photo credit: Getty

Retired women's bantamweight world champion Miesha Tate says she's open to a return to the cage as part of her new role with ONE Championship, although that won't necessarily mean putting the gloves back on.

The 32-year-old Seattle native was in Singapore for ONE's 'Heart of the Lion' event on Saturday night where she took in her first taste of a live event with her new employer as its newly-named Vice President.

While she's still working through the specifics of exactly what her new position with the burgeoning MMA promotion will entail, Tate – a renowned wrestler - indicated she's "absolutely" interested in competing in grappling contests.

"That’s what's so great about ONE, that they offer it all," Tate told Newshub, referring to the multi-discipline contests on display at ONE events.

"For me, the grappling aspect really speaks out so, yes, I absolutely would be [interested]."

Tate's also to keen to test her wares in the commentary booth.

"I love breaking down live fight action, that's my absolute favourite thing to do because I'm a fan of the sport.

"I'd love to be able to tell people what's going on. If I could explain something that maybe the casual fan watching wouldn’t quite understand then that's exactly what I'd want to do."

But Tate maintains her primary focus would be working with the athletes themselves, taking up a coaching role at nearby Evolve MMA.

The Singapore gym is beginning to forge a reputation as the headquarters of Asian combat sports, and it's where she first met ONE CEO and Chairman Chartri Sityodtong.

"I think he's an incredible man, I love what he stands for. I remember when I came out here twice prior with the UFC he opened the doors to his gym for me to train there.

"We just had great conversations, and you don’t forget a connection like that."

Alongside superstar Ronda Rousey, 'Cupcake' was a cornerstone of the UFC's first crop of female fighters after they added the women's bantamweight division in 2013.

She amassed a professional record of 18-7, the highlight of which was a stunning fifth round submission win over Holly Holm to clinch the bantamweight belt in 2016 – a win regarded as one of the greatest comebacks in the sport's history.

Tate's addition is the latest in a string of high profile appointments at ONE, following the acquisition of two other former UFC champions - Demetrious Johnson and Eddie Alvarez.

Growing weary of the UFC "circus", Tate says ONE's values are much more in line with her own, and she knew the time was right for her and her young family to make the move she'd long been entertaining.

"I think I'm a purist when it comes to mixed martials arts. I love the fact that ONE championship appeals to true martial arts.

"It's not about who has the biggest mouth and talks the biggest trash, it's about who can get in there and fight the best.

"That speaks to my heart, that’s why I got into martial arts.

"If you go back to my UFC interviews I said I'd love to come out here for a year or so, and that was about two years ago before I met Johnny [Nunez] and had my baby, Amaia.

"About a month after she was born it just crossed my mind, it was something that I always wanted to do. I reached out to Chartri and it was an immediate warm welcome."

Tate's deal – which she says was agreed upon four months ago – will be for an initial one-year term, but she's open to extending her stay.

"It's all about ONE Championship in Asia. The UFC comes here and it's not quite the same. I think there's been a powershift, I just think that the western media didn't know about it.

"The branding and the fact that it speaks to the true martial artist, it fits over here well. It's right up my alley too, so I think it’s the perfect home for me."