UFC Vegas 31: A New Dawn for Tate or a Ride Into the Sunset for Reneau?

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 25: (L-R) Marion Reneau and Miesha Tate face off during the UFC weigh-in at UFC APEX on June 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Miesha Tate was one of the UFC’s original female stars and she returns intent on getting back to the top of the division, but she faces an opponent with nothing to lose in Marion Reneau at UFC Vegas 31.

“The Belizean Bruiser” Marion Reneau has already made it clear, Saturday night will be her final appearance inside the cage as a competitor.  She is under no illusions; a four fight losing streak will not be undone regardless of how impressive she were to be against a former champion.  That said, it is a privilege few fighters have to be able to go out in such a high profile bout and it is expected that she will step into the cage as physically prepared as she has ever been to get the victory in her final outing.

At 44-years old, the PE teacher is the oldest woman competing on the UFC roster.  A late bloomer to mixed martial arts, Reneau has been a professional since 2010 and opened her career at 4-1 before being signed to the promotion.  A veteran of the Octagon since 2015, Reneau’s career has seen her take on her share of notable bantamweights in former champion Holly Holm and former title challengers Cat Zingano, Raquel Pennington, Sara McMann, and Yana Kunitskaya.  Her biggest career victory came early in her Octagon run as she defeated future champion Jessica Andrade in her second UFC fight.

As unbelievable as it may seem, the second act of Miesha Tate’s career was en route to becoming arguably more amazing than the first.  This made the announcement of her return all the more surprising.  Last seen competing in 2016, she went on to wear many hats around the business of MMA.  Aside from being a brand ambassador for the UFC and doing occasional analyst work, Tate also worked as a manager for seven-division boxing champion Amanda Serrano (for her MMA career), future UFC fighter Gustavo Lopez, and others.  She rose to media prominence as a host on SiriusXM.  She eventually dropped all of her other obligations besides her show on Sirius in 2018 when she was given a role as Vice President for ONE Championship and relocated to Singapore.

The pandemic led to a reduction of her role for ONE.  A change in lifestyle amidst the changing world and a desire to compete again led to her making the decision to relocate back to Vegas and resume her MMA career in the UFC where she was still under contract.  She has stated that her goal is to pursue championship gold again, and fans will remember her as one of the trio of stars with Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm who brought the female divisions to prominence in the early 2010’s.  At a time when the women’s bantamweight division is lacking new contenders, a former champion with her name value would be a breath of fresh air.  That said, her ambitions will all be for naught unless she can win in spectacular fashion to convince fans that she is back at the elite level after nearly five years away.

A victory for Reneau may convince her to stick around for one more, though she has held firm that it is unlikely.  A victory for Tate could open a world of possibilities with match-ups against contenders like Aspen Ladd and Irene Aldana being the most obvious.  A rematch with top contender Holly Holm or a fresh fight with Germaine de Randamie could also be a possibility.  One thing that is clear, another victory over a rising contender will be necessary if the ultimate goal is to sell a rematch with current champion Amanda Nunes, who already defeated Tate back in 2016 to win the bantamweight title.


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