After close to five years out of action, UFC Vegas 31 marked former women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate’s return to the octagon. For opponent Marion Reneau, the fight was the 44-year old Belizian Bruiser’s swan song.
One woman returning, one woman leaving the sport entirely. As MMA storylines go, it was a good one, but only one fighter was going to get a happy ending on Saturday in Las Vegas.
Reneau opened with a kick, while Tate, in her first octagon appearance in years, had her jab going early. Her right hand set up her entries, and for the first two minutes, Tate was happy to hang on the feet, catching Reneau at least once. Reneau answered with a right hand of her own, but had nothing to follow it up with. Tate finally shot for a takedown with just over two minutes remaining — but Reneau managed to stay standing has the pair battled in the clinch.
After a couple of exchanges leading up to the final minute, Tate finally landed the takedown. She would be forced to contend with a triangle and some upkicks, but Tate managed to pass to half guard. That secured her the round most likely, but she ran out of time.
Round two saw more standup, with Tate leading the dance, but Reneau answering with a couple of right hands. Reneau stayed on the outside, circling, but soon enough, Tate scooped her up for takedown — resulting in a fence grab that was clear as day, but earned only a warning from the ref. Thankfully, Tate secured the emphatic takedown moments later, so the foul had no bearing on the fight.
Reneau worked on a kimura from the bottom as Tate landed elbows to the body. Reneau then received a warning for toes in the fence as Tate backed off, then returned to the ground in half-guard. Tate then landed some sharp hammer fists and an elbow, bloodying Reneau’s nose.
If ever there was a promising sign for Miesha Tate, it was that she actually appeared more comfortable in the second round, and as a result, she entered the final five minutes likely up 20-18.
In the third, Tate tagged Reneau in the opening minute, but she soon changed levels for a takedown, looking to finish with a trip. Reneau fought that off, but Tate stayed on the attempt on landed it, moving to side control. From there she got a hook in, and Reneau was in danger of either giving up her back, or being finished with ground n’ pound. After Tate turned up the volume, the ref made the call, giving Tate the finish in her first fight in years!
TATE 2.0 🙌
Miesha Tate has officially reignited her career 💥
— UFC (@ufc) July 18, 2021
Miesha Tate might not be ready to jump right into the Amanda Nunes rematch. Still, following the win, she proclaimed “with all due respect, I’m not here just to fight, I’m here for the belt.” She’ll need a few more tune-up fights first, but Tate looked solid Saturday — and she can certainly be competitive.
Official Result: Miesha Tate def. Marion Reneau by TKO, Round 3, 1:53