Miesha Tate learned a valuable lesson on the way to her second Ultimate Fighting Championship title shot.
The hurt of having something taken away vanishes in the appreciation of another opportunity.
Late last summer, after Ronda Rousey scored a first-minute knockout of Brazilian Bethe Correia in her home country, Tate was first in line to get a third crack at Rousey.
Tate had won four consecutive fights since becoming the first woman to take Rousey to the third round in 2013. She was the No. 1-ranked women’s bantamweight and there seemed to be no better candidate.
Yet, after discussion inside UFC offices, company President Dana White and his matchmakers decided former world-champion boxer and pro kickboxer Holly Holm would be a better test for Rousey than Tate, a woman she had already beaten twice.
They were right, but that didn’t stop Tate (17-5) from stewing.
“I was real sad. It’s been quite character-forging, I’ll put it that way,” Tate said. “It was disheartening and pretty hard to get through.”
She watched Rousey suffer her first loss on a second-round head kick by Holm in November, heard Holm push to fight again quickly, then saw Rousey back off the idea of fighting in July, then took joy in emerging as Holm’s first title defense opponent.
“I realize now, in this moment, that those lows are there so the highs are better,” Tate, 29, said. “I have a different outlook on this opportunity. I thought I had [the title shot] before. It was taken [away], and now I’ve got to make the most of this. I feel like this is exactly how it was supposed to play out.
“And after I beat Holly, it will make a lot more sense for me to fight Ronda again.”
Tate, a distinguished wrestler, isn’t sold on Holm’s ground game, and even called the champion’s chin “suspect.”
“Landing a solid right hand could definitely put her down,” Tate said. “I’ve fought many, many great strikers, and I’ve done very well with that. I have a lot of tools in my toolbelt.”
The challenger said she feels assured her urgency is stronger than Holm’s.
“There’s no guarantee I’ll ever get another title shot,” Tate said. “March 5 is my day, the only date that matters to me. Nothing comes after that.
“I’m more appreciative. I have a whole new perspective. I’m taking it all in. I feel like I’m harnessing my inner beast.”
At a public workout Wednesday, Tate wore boxing gloves, told fans she appreciated their support and closed the session by acting as if she was strapping a title belt across her waist.
Gone is her past angst with Rousey.
“This one feels all too easy -- it’s a natural lead-up,” Tate said. “I’ve been beating girls at their top attributes, at their own game, and I think that’s a testament to how well-rounded I am in each area.
“I beat Jessica Eye in the striking department. I hurt her. Sara McMann, I out-grappled an Olympic silver medalist. Even with Ronda, I took her down once and escaped some armbars. I’ve proved I’m dangerous on my feet, gritty, tough. …
“You know, what more can we ask for?”