Man at His Best

Wisdom: Miesha Tate

Dedicating her life to hone that focused strike in mixed martial arts.

BY Lestari Hairul | Jun 6, 2017 | Fitness & Health

Photograph by Ronald Leong

Hand-to-hand combat is the most exceptional way to express yourself as an athlete. It’s just pure and fun.

The fight is such a small amount of time and effort compared to all the hours that you spend on training. Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a year-round sport. There is no off-season. You’re always training. You’re always ready and in that grind. You miss birthdays, weddings and funerals.

You have to sacrifice a lot to be a fighter. There’s a level of dedication that’s required to be a mixed martial artist that goes beyond the comprehension of most people, and well beyond their willingness to sacrifice that much.

I’m still in the gym every day. I make time to make sure that I stay in shape, because that’s just the way that I’m used to operating. I don’t always get to train MMA when I’m on the road because, obviously, the gyms aren’t always accessible. That’s when I’ll go for a run, a swim or lift weights. But when I’m home, I’m in my gym.

Honestly, I knew that the end of my career was closer than not, having done it for 11 years. But I also didn’t know when it was going to be, and I certainly didn’t think it was going to be when it was. So it caught me a little bit by surprise too.

[MMA is] a sport that requires you to have a very big heart. When you’ve been doing it for 11 years and you realise that you don’t have the same heart for competing that you did when you were 19, you’re left questioning: should I continue to kinda do it? No. I don’t kinda do things. [Laughs] I’m all or none.

If you can disable someone’s mind, it doesn’t matter what tools they have physically because the mind controls the body. MMA has taught me that I’m stronger than I ever knew I was.

I think the future of fighting is female-based. Proportionally, not that many women do it now, but women are quickly entering the sport. The more women that do it [fighting], the more women will be happy to put their daughters into programmes.

When I first started, you would be lucky to see one little girl in a kids’ wrestling programme. One. Maybe. That was rare. And now you see quite a few. They’re right alongside the boys doing their wrestling workouts.

The perception has changed. People are starting to understand that it’s okay for women to do this just like men.

I’d like to throw my own grappling promotions, and I’d like to continue to build my podcast. The Miesha Tate Show is something that I’m very passionate about. It’s not an MMA show; it’s conversations that I have with inspirational people and we talk about a myriad of topics.

No matter what goals I set, when I reach them, the goal line moves. I always have something more that I want to do. It’s never enough because I just want to make the most of life. I don’t like sitting around my house doing nothing. I want to see the world, I want to experience different cultures, and I want to taste different food. I just want to learn about the world.

I’d like to be remembered as someone who went through her fair share of adversity, but still found her way to better herself for it.

Although people always love a winner, people can relate to someone who doesn’t win all the time. And I think that’s my story, it’s realistic.

There’s been times when I’ve lost and had to rebuild myself. I won my world title afterwards and I think that story sends the message to not give up.

No matter how many times you get knocked down, it matters how many times you stand back up.

I know that I have a more muscular build, and that’s not going to be attractive to everyone, but it doesn’t have to be.

My body is the result of the work ethic that I put into it; therefore, I never look at it and frown at myself. Like, Aww, all this hard work has caused me to look like this. No, I’m proud of that. I look like this because I’m working hard.

Life is meant to be lived. You go out, take risks, explore. Don’t be afraid to change and, sometimes, you’ve just got to be like, Okay let’s do this.

This article was first published in the print edition of Esquire Singapore, June/July 2017.