Tonight, the Strikeforce fight promotion will be putting on a four-woman, one-night tournament to determine the next challenger for women’s 135 pound champion Sarah Kaufman’s belt. One of the women favored to win the tournament, Meisha Tate, recently spoke with MMAJunkie.com to discuss her thoughts on the tournament, how she is prepared to deal with possibly fighting twice in one night and what she believes the tournament means for women’s MMA.
First of all, Tate shared the source of her motivation with MMAJunkie: a rematch with the champ. Tate lost a unanimous decision to Kaufman in May of 2009 at the inaugural Strikeforce: Challengers event and is now looking to avenge that loss.
“I’ve been looking forward to Sarah Kaufman since 10 seconds after we fought last year,” Tate said. “I think she’s my most sought after rematch.”
Tate, who is 3-0 since the Kaufman loss, also revealed that her mindset is one of focus, determination and confidence heading into this tournament.
“All I do is eat, breathe, sleep thinking victory,” Tate said. “A loss doesn’t even cross my mind. That’s all I’m focused on right now. It doesn’t matter who or how – just winning.”
“Takedown” is no stranger to the tournament format of fighting as she began her MMA career in a one-night HOOKnSHOOT tournament. Should she get past her first round opponent, the Finnish Maiju Kujala, Tate will face the winner of the tournament’s other two fighters, Hitomi Akano and Carina Damm. As MMAJunkie.com pointed out, the Akano-Damm bout will occur prior to the Tate-Kujala fight and will therefore allow the winner more time to recover than Tate will get should she advance. The 24-year old said that she isn’t worried about the recovery time and that her prior tournament experience has her prepared to deal with whatever comes her way tonight.
“I’ve competed in tournaments, and I’ve made mistakes in them,” Tate said. “One thing is it’s natural when you’re competing to have that adrenaline dump once you’re done. You think, ‘Thank God that’s over,’ and win lose or draw, you’re done and you can relax. In a tournament, you have to keep that going, and you can’t let that momentum drop. So that’s going to be the biggest thing. Just going back and preparing as if you haven’t even fought before. I think 30 minutes rest is about the perfect time. It’s just enough time to go down and get fully recovered. Get your heart rate back to resting and then you have five, maybe 10 minutes just to chill out, (then) drink some water and get a good warm-up.”
Strikeforce is currently the biggest stage for women’s MMA in the US and likely in the world. Tate said that she believes that the upcoming women’s 135 pound tournament will only garner more exposure for women’s MMA and that she is looking at the tourney as an opportunity to eventually secure the Strikeforce women’s 135 pound title.
“Being a part of this tournament is monumental because it’s helping push MMA to the forefront,” Tate said. “Strikeforce has shown they believe in and want to promote women’s fighting. The way I look at this entire tournament thing is that potentially I’m three fights from being a world champion.”
Strikeforce Challengers 10 will go down this evening at the Dodge Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona and in addition to the women’s tournament will feature bouts between Joe Riggs and Louis Taylor and also will showcase the professional MMA debut of MMA legend Randy “The Natural” Couture’s son, Ryan Couture, who will be taking on Lucas Stark. The event will air live on Showtime.