Tate, 29, who will face Amanda Nunes on Satruday, is used to proving people wrong. She’s pretty and eloquent but a fierce, grind-it-out fighter who doesn’t give up.
TACOMA — When mixed martial arts fighter and Tacoma native Miesha Tate steps into the ring Saturday night in the main event in UFC 200 in Las Vegas to defend her 135-pound title, dad Rob Schmidt will be ringside cheering her on.
It wasn’t always this way.
“I didn’t like her doing any contact sports,” said Schmidt, a former military member and now vice president of sales and marketing for Olympic Moving & Storage for Bekins NW.
UFC 200 in Las Vegas
135 — Miesha Tate vs. Amanda Nunes
265 — Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Hunt
205 — Daniel Cormier vs. Anderson Silva
145— Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar
265— Travis Browne vs. Cain Velasquez
“It was more about my issues and not looking past those. I should have been supporting my kid. It was ‘This is a guy’s sport. You are the only girl, not only on this team, but on any other team you wrestle against. What are you doing?’ ”
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Tate, 29, who will face Amanda Nunes on Saturday, is used to proving people wrong.
She’s pretty and eloquent but a fierce, grind-it-out fighter who doesn’t give up.
Tate stuck it out as the only girl on the wrestling team at Franklin Pierce High School despite constant pressure from coaches and teammates to quit.
“I barely made it through a training session where I didn’t feel like I was going to pass out,” said Tate, who is 18-5 and on a five-fight win streak. “A lot of the boys didn’t want me there, and it was obvious I wasn’t welcomed. But I didn’t care. I loved the training because it pushed me past my limits.”
Tate was part of the first group of girls to compete at the state wrestling championships and, as a senior in 2005, the second year the WIAA held an all-girls tournament, she pinned her way to a title.
“I didn’t go to any of her wrestling matches,” Schmidt said. “I didn’t want to watch her get hurt.
“Her mom went.”
As a 19-year-old at Central Washington, Tate joined an all-male mixed martial arts training group, driving close to an hour to Yakima three to five times a week to learn more about striking and jiu jitsu.
There, she met current boyfriend and coach Bryan Caraway, who initially tried to sway her from fighting.
The two started dating and Caraway, also a UFC fighter, broke things off when Tate stated her MMA intentions as serious.
“We went on a few dates and I really, really liked him a lot and I think he liked me, too, but when I said I wanted to do the fighters’ training session he was like ‘Hold up,’ and that was when girls weren’t really fighting. I think he thought I was trying to stalk him,” said Tate.
“We broke up and I was heartbroken, but then it came full circle when I started fighting and continued to fight.”
Tate had her first bout in 2006 and learned quickly that the sport was going to test her like she hadn’t been tested before. She lost and got her nose broken.
Dad was angry.
“But she kept going after it,” he said. “She’s as tough as they come, and I’m so proud of her.”
Tate is out to prove herself again. Some fight pundits don’t consider her a legitimate champion, at least until she beats former longtime champ Ronda Rousey.
But Tate is now focused on taking care of business against Nunes. And dad won’t stop gushing about her.
How times have changed.