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Miesha Tate Beats Marion Reneau via 3rd-Round TKO in Return at UFC on ESPN 26

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2021

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 17: (L-R) Miesha Tate punches Marion Reneau in their bantamweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on July 17, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

Miesha Tate is officially back. The former bantamweight champion was victorious in her comeback fight against Marion Reneau via third-round TKO in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 31 on Saturday.

Tate's wrestling and ground-and-pound carried the day for the former champion. After winning the first two rounds she finally drew the referee stoppage in the final frame to claim the win.

Tate got off to a strong start in the first round. Despite the long layoff, she looked comfortable in standing with Reneau. She worked behind a jab to put together some combinations and mixed in her takedowns well. While she was able to get Reneau to the mat, her opponent made her work to land anything there.

The former champion continued to turn to her wrestling in the second round. She controlled the pace and had Reneau on her back once again. She had more than one analyst point out her performance was vintage Tate:

Adam Hill @AdamHillLVRJ

That looked like a pre-2016 Miesha Tate round. Definitely looks like she has shaken off any rust. 20-18 Tate with 5 minutes left #UFCVegas31

The momentum continued to favor Cupcake going into the third round. In the final frame, she seemed to have even more confidence as she got her opponent to the ground and utilized her control to land multiple crushing blows.

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UFC @ufc

TATE 2.0 ๐Ÿ™Œ Miesha Tate has officially reignited her career ๐Ÿ’ฅ [ #UFCVegas31 is LIVE on @ESPN & @ESPNPlus ] https://t.co/RgOa0fv7sA

Utilizing her moment in the spotlight after getting the stoppage, Tate made her intentions with her comeback known:

Marc Raimondi @marc_raimondi

Tate: With all due respect, Iโ€™m not just here for a fight. Iโ€™m here for a belt. #UFCVegas31

The win for Tate brings to an end a retirement that has stuck since 2016. When Tate walked away from the sport, she had dropped back-to-back losses, including a unanimous decision to Raquel Pennington. However, she was just two fights removed from holding on to the strap.

The pair of losses capped a strong run of five straight fights after the conclusion of her rivalry with Ronda Rousey.

Coming back after nearly five years of inactivity is a tall task. But if she's able to recapture her top form, she could be relevant in the division in short order. Looking at the current landscape of the Amanda Nunes-dominated division, she believes she's ready to be in that category once again.

"I definitely don't feel like this sport has passed me by," Tate told Damon Martin of MMA Fighting. "If you look at a lot of the women that are at the top, like a lot of the women when I was fighting, and a lot of them I've already fought against. Of course, it's evolved over those four years, but I think what's nice about the fact that I took that long break was that I was really burnt out."

Tate has also been clear the return to the cage is about her desire to fight again. Not the financial compensation that comes with it. Tate had taken a job as vice president of ONE Championship but had to step down to make her return happen.

With a win over Reneau, she's had the opportunity to shake off the rest. Now, we'll get to see if she can remake herself a contender at 34 years old.

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