One of the biggest stars in the history of female mixed martial arts has decided to make a comeback.
Former UFC bantamweight champion Miesha Tate (18-7) told ESPN on Wednesday she has accepted a fight against Marion Reneau (9-7-1) on July 17. In a bit of irony, Reneau told ESPN she has decided that same bout will be the final fight of her professional career. The UFC has not announced the fight or an event on that date, but it is expected to be a UFC Fight Night.
“My heart is full of passion, the fire has been lit!” Tate told ESPN, via text message. “The sport has been calling for me, it’s time I answer.”
Tate, 34, announced her retirement from MMA in 2016, but stayed involved in the sport as an ambassador and executive for One Championship, a promotion based in Asia. In addition to winning a UFC title, Tate held a 135-pound championship in Strikeforce. Her rivalry with Ronda Rousey between 2012 and 2013 is considered one of the greatest rivalries in MMA history.
Under the UFC’s anti-doping policy, an athlete returning from retirement is subject to a six-month testing window prior to resuming competition. That rule is unique to the UFC program, which is administered by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). The UFC has the ability to waive this requirement, however, depending on various circumstances. UFC officials did not immediately comment on Tate’s specific case.
Reneau, 43, is on the final fight of her UFC contract. She was on the verge of breaking into the title picture in 2018, but has since dropped four decisions to top competition in Cat Zingno, Yana Kunitskaya, Raquel Pennington and Macy Chiasson.
“I knew that my last fight would be when I was 43 or 44 years old,” Reneau said. “Granted, I feel amazing. I feel the best I’ve ever felt. But there just comes a time when I feel it’s time to move on and in my mind, I always knew I would finish out my contract and that was going to be it.
“I can’t think of a better situation, just because I like to say I grew up watching Miesha. She was one of my first idols when I started fighting. I used to dream about fighting her, and now it’s coming to pass in what happens to be my last hoorah.”