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Miesha Tate stands by her stance on fighters dating coaches

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You see it a fair bit in MMA, fighters dating coaches. There are good examples and there bad examples of this dynamic and unfortunately for Miesha Tate she experienced a bad example in Bryan Caraway. Tate is concerned that Aspen Ladd, who dates coach Jim West, may also draw the same straw further down the line. Tate sat down to talk with the MMA Hour ahead of her fight with Ketlen Vieira at UFC Vegas 43 this Saturday.

Aspen Ladd’s coach/boyfriend has a way of cornering that has the MMA community divided, some think it is too extreme and some fans think its normal. Miesha Tate is the former:

“People think that I’m crazy because they look at it and say, ‘Well the coach needed to be the coach, and he needed to be hard on her, and he needed to tell her the truth. Yeah, you’re right, but there’s a difference between motivating and there’s a difference between giving her the body language, just the little two-finger shove on her shoulder to kind of get her to focus on him — you don’t understand when you break that down, exactly what that means and what’s going on in their relationship.

“People just see this one little glimpse, and I’m looking at this from someone who’s been on the outside in the big picture, and I think she failed to show up more so probably due to outside factors than what you saw in the fight. It’s hard for people to understand that unless you’ve been there.”

The power a head coach has over a fighter can be problematic according to Tate and it is not uncommon to see coaches and fighters getting together; Pat Barry/Rose Namajunas, Andrea Lee/Donny Aaron, and Antonina Shevchenko/Pavel Fedotov and so on.

“Absolutely, especially your lead coach,” she said. “I would absolutely say you don’t want that, and that’s where Johnny and I differ very much from what I was used to in that, yes, he’s in my corner, he’s a part of my camps, he does teach me things sometimes, but I see us as equals, and I think he recognizes that, too. Sometimes, I show him things. We don’t have someone who’s in charge of the other one — we are just there to support each other, because it’s difficult when someone always gets to be the boss of you, and that translates over into the personal life, too, where you just start to feel like you lose yourself. Because where do you draw the line? Where’s the difference?

“If somebody always gets to be the boss of you, and it’s 24-7, pretty soon you’re swallowed up in that, especially if you’re not with the right person to give you that guidance. It’s a very tricky thing to do. I don’t think very many people are able to make a head coach relationship [work] — and it’s always women. It’s always women that end up dating their head coach. We haven’t really seen it in reverse, so I’m not sure what that would look like in the reverse, but I can speak from my situation that, for the most part, it was detrimental, and the longer that it went, it was detrimental.”

Tate does not want to speak in absolutes and say that all relationships between coaches and fighters are bad. John Wood and Joanne Calderwood (Mrs. Calderwood-Wood?) are an example of a good coach/fighter couple, or Paige VanZant and Austin Vanderford.

But Tate wants there to be a discussion over the power dynamics that develop in the fighter/coach relationship, especially when there is an age gap. There is a large age gap between Ladd and West.

“It is, from my experience, generally problematic when a female fighter, especially younger, starts dating a coach,” she said. “The more the age difference, the more they become, sort of, hooks in, claws deep, and they start to feel like they can rule your life. And that can happen even outside of fighting, but when you add that kind of dynamic to it as well, it can just be such an ugly situation. So I think it’s something we should definitely have conversations about, make people a little more aware that it doesn’t have to be that way.

“But a lot of times, I feel like women gravitate toward a male figure that’s in their life consistently and trying to help them. But once it becomes a relationship, things become so entangled and so intertwined, and it’s very difficult not only to separate your personal life from when you go into the gym, but the gym from when you go home. That was my biggest problem was that the coach always came home. I lost the significant other, if you will, and it just became this mental game — it was 24/7.”

Miesha dated her own coach, Bryan Caraway, for the best part of a decade until the pair went their separate ways in 2017. Caraway was charged with a whole host of crimes in 2018, including attempted theft of Miesha Tate’s ATV. Tate is now happily engaged to teammate Johnny Nunez, with whom she has two kids.

“I can relate to the situation that she’s in, and that’s exactly how I feel,” she said. “I think that in a few years, she’ll probably come out and say, ‘Yeah, I was in the thick of it. I wasn’t ready to talk about it then, but here in hindsight, here’s the truth.’”

This is the fight that had the community divided, a fight that Aspen lost:

Before that Jim West did the same thing and it resulted in one of the best performances of Aspen’s career:

You be the judge and tell us what you think, is it just a professional thing or does it run deeper than that? There are numerous cases of bullying behaviour in MMA relationships and Miesha Tate is convinced about this particular relationship. Of course, Aspen’s inability to make weight is also a major cause for concern, is she pushing herself or is she being pushed? Only time will tell.

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Frans Mlambo Out, Arturo Vergara In For May 29 Combate Global Event

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Frans Mlambo, the number one contender in Combate Global’s bantamweight division, will be replaced by hard-hitting Arturo Vergara (2-0 MMA; 3-1 Kickboxing) of Los Andes, Chile via Miami.  Vergara will challenge Martinez of Mexico City, Mexico in a bantamweight non-title bout.

Combate Global today announced a new main event for its show on Sunday, May 29 in Miami, Fla., due to an abdominal injury sustained by Ireland’s Frans “The Zulu Irishman” Mlambo (13-5), who had been scheduled to challenge reigning Combate Global World Bantamweight (135 pounds) Champion David “The Black Spartan” Martinez (6-1) for Martinez’s title.

Combate Global will announce television programming details as well as the complete fight card for the event on Tuesday, May 24.

“We wish Frans a full and speedy recovery,” said Combate Global CEO Campbell McLaren, “and are excited to debut Chile’s Arturo Vergara, who is coming off an incredible, nine-second knockout!  I have a lot of respect for Arturo stepping up because David Martinez is as tough an opponent as they come.”

Unbeaten to date under MMA rules, Vergara produced a stunning, nine-second knockout via a flying knee strike of Cody Schieve on May 6. The speedy win followed another first round (2:21) TKO (strikes) that Vergara notched in his MMA rules debut against Steven Orozco on February 19.

Prior to his first MMA start, Vergara had competed exclusively under kickboxing rules, amassing over 80 bouts as an amateur, and a 3-1 record as a professional. The 23-year-old Martinez of Mexico City will enter La Jaula, the Combate Global competition cage, for the first time since he was crowned world champion one year ago, on May 29, 2021.

A member of Team Bonebreakers, Martinez defeated three consecutive opponents – including championship round adversary Francisco “Cisco” Rivera, Jr. via second round (0:17) TKO (head kick and punches) – in one night, to become world champion.

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UFC London | 5 Fighters Who Have To Be On The Card

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Immediately after UFC London earlier in the year, the ball started rolling towards a second UK event in 2022 after Dana White made it clear he wanted to come back soon. Whilst the year’s first event at the O2 Arena delivered one of the best non-PPV events in recent history, there’s still more ground to cover. Aspinall vs Volkov was stacked with home fighters but there are still a handful that missed out on fighting in front of the UK.

Here are five UK fighters that deserve a chance to fight at the O2 Arena after missing out the first time. Not that we’re complaining if the likes of Paddy Pimblett and Jai Herbert show up on this card also.

5. Dom Wooding

Yes it is true, we will never stop banging this drum. After defending his Cage Warriors bantamweight title in December of last year, we had our fingers crossed that London would come around in time for Dom Wooding. The ‘Black Panther’ didn’t get the call up on that occasion but absence has only made the heart grow fonder. This is the time for Dom Wooding to fight in the UFC and if you don’t believe us, maybe ‘The Last Stylebender’ can change your mind.

4. Mason Jones

Mason ‘The Dragon’ Jones has had quite a stop and start UFC career since joining the promotion as a double champion in Cage Warriors. The Welshman is 1-1-1 in the UFC so far and would have picked up some decent momentum if his fight with Alan Patrick hadn’t been stopped due to an accidental eye poke in a fight he was winning comfortably. A win over late notice replacement David Onama, who recently picked up a first UFC win of his own, has got Jones back on the right path after a tough introduction to the UFC against Mike Davis. Jones always delivers great fights due to his high pressure and output style and a win in London could be exactly the kind of moment he needs to really put the past behind him and push on in the UFC.

3. Lerone Murphy

For the vast majority of UK fight fans, Lerone Murphy came out of nowhere when he debuted in the UFC. Now on a 3-fight win streak after his debut resulted in a draw at UFC 242, Murphy has been putting on increasingly impressive performances every time he has stepped foot in the Octagon. Still yet to fight in front of UK fans, ‘The Miracle’ will have a huge fight on his hands in his next outing as he looks to step foot in the rankings of the stacked featherweight division.

2. Davey Grant

Davey Grant has really made a name for himself in recent times as a must watch fighter who will steal a main card. After chaining back-to-back finishes, Grant may have lost two of his last three fights but his stock in the UFC has risen massively. His fights with Marlon Vera and Adrian Yanez put Grant on the map when it comes to value for money fighters. Now back in the win column after his 3rd round finish over Louis Smolka at the weekend, Grant said in his post fight interview about making a quick turn around and potentially fighting in London. We know we are asking for a lot with the card already being incredibly busy but Davey Grant opening the main card with a barnburner is sure to blow the roof off of the O2 just like the last time the UFC came calling.

1. Nathaniel Wood

Luck has not been on Nathaniel Wood’s side as of late. Three cancelled fights in a row meant he missed out on the first London card even after he was found a replacement opponent. An illness forced Vince Morales out of their bout which seemed to be opening the event and setting the tone for the evening with the return of ‘The Prospect’ in front of his people. After going 4-2 as a bantamweight in the UFC but losing to two top fighters in John Dodson and Casey Kenney, Wood has announced he is moving up a weight class since his fight in London fell off. Nathaniel Wood deserves this chance to fight in London after losing out at such short notice last time around and we can’t wait to see how he stacks up amongst the rest of the 145 pound division.

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Fight To Watch | Muhammad Mokaev vs Charles Johnson

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Fights are being booked fast and furiously for July 23rd as the UFC’s anticipated return to London approaches. With fireworks expected throughout the whole event, MMAPlay365 and VMTV have scoured through the card and selected Muhammad Mokaev vs Charles Johnson as our ‘Fight To Watch’ on the night.

Muhammad Mokaev returns to the octagon following a successful debut back at UFC London in March against Cody Durden. ‘The Punisher’ made light work of his American counter-part, submitting him in the first round via guillotine choke with very little problems. His upcoming opponent, Charles Johnson, signs with the UFC after an impressive four-fight winning streak on LFA, which saw him capture and defend flyweight gold.

His ability to mix it up on the feet and in grappling scenarios make this a much more dangerous bout for Mokaev stylistically, but it’s still nothing the 21 year old won’t be able to handle in the eyes of MMAPlay365 CEO, Adam Newsome:

“At this stage of Muhammad Mokaev’s UFC career every fight is going to be a test. And just because you haven’t heard of Charles Johnson doesn’t mean he isn’t a good fighter. Johnson was the Flyweight Champion in LFA. If you aren’t familiar with LFA it’s basically the American equivalent of Cage Warriors. You are battle tested in LFA and if you become a Champion the chances are the UFC are going to sign you.

So this is a very interesting match-up but still right now I don’t think that Mokaev gets tested enough to the point he loses. This is going to be another fight I see him doing extremely well in and I don’t see Mokaev losing a fight until he hits the top 20 of the division. But even when that time comes, he is going to have improved and developed so much that he could run through that pool of fighters at that time. If a fighter is going to beat Mokaev outside the best fighters in the division then now is the time to do it whilst he’s still developing. But even though he’s still developing he’s still a problem. I’m not sure Mokaev finds another finish here so I am predicting a dominant three round decision victory for Muhammad Mokaev.”

Cauley Quilty, Editor for VMTV, had this to say on the fight: “Muhammad Mokaev is always a treat to watch in action and his UFC debut back in March was nothing short of spectacular! He came to make a statement and did exactly that getting the first round finish and I see him doing the same thing when he steps back out there against Charles Johnson. His extensive amateur career and impressive run of professional performances make it almost impossible to not side with Mokaev in this bout, especially with the way he defeated Durden on his debut.

However, Charles Johnson isn’t an opponent anyone should underestimate as his resume and recent performances speak for themselves! His fight vs Carlos ‘Mota’ Tizil was a barnburner and with 8 of his 11 wins coming by way of finish you know he can get the job done when needed. Both fighters are highly touted and respected so expect the winner of this to receive a bump up in competition on their next outing.”

Who do you think leaves the ‘Fight To Watch’ with their hand raised? Be sure to let us know your predictions below!

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