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Tate prepares for UFC title defense, with Rousey looming large

Tate prepares for UFC title defense, with Rousey looming large
UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate addresses the media as the Grand Marshall for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 on June 12.
(Kena Krutsinger / Getty Images)

Ever since Miesha Tate won the Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight belt from Holly Holm in March,  she has done a lot of talking.

Interviews and speaking engagements continue to pile up. Her podcast, “The Miesha Tate Show,” now has 17 episodes. After lunch with reporters in West Hollywood, she was heading to appear on Monday night’s episode of  “Conan” with Conan O’Brien.

But Tate (18-5) does have a few rules as the attention swirls around her: Nothing can interfere with her focus on her upcoming title defense against Amanda Nunes (12-4) on July 9.

No, not even the prospect of fighting former champion Ronda Rousey down the road.

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“[Rousey’s] not ready now, so she’s not really a focal point for me,”  Tate said. “I’m not even focusing on her at the moment. Amanda Nunes is going to be a great challenge for me. ... You get a fiery Brazilian woman in there who really wants to take that belt.”

The Tate-Nunes bout is part of a stacked card for UFC 200 in Las Vegas.

The knock on Nunes is that she starts aggressively and tires out in later rounds, but Tate isn’t expecting that to happen.

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“There’s just something different about me …  there’s just a sense of primal possession over that belt,” Tate said. “I feel so much more fierce about it because I really have something to protect now. I think that’s going to add a sense of ferocity in my fights that we’ve never seen before.”

Tate did offer a few thoughts about Rousey, including that Tate would be disappointed if her rival never fought again.

Rousey hasn’t fought since being knocked out by Holm in the second round in November, losing the bantamweight belt and a perfect record with one swing of Holm’s right foot.

Tate, who has lost twice to Rousey, doesn’t hide her eagerness for a third bout.

“I would be disappointed if she doesn’t come back, if I don’t get that opportunity, you know?” Tate said. “I definitely would be. It would be a void that would feel like it didn’t get to get filled. So I hope that that is not the case.”

If Tate beats Nunes, she could defend the belt against Rousey at UFC 205 in New York on Nov. 12. But Nunes comes first.

“I’ve been seeing a lot of UFC belts changing hands recently,” Tate said. “And I don’t want that to happen to me.”

jesse.dougherty@latimes.com

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