Not to be overly negative (though it’s a bit hard not to be in cases like these), but Miesha Tate and Georges St. Pierre have something in common: both have been disrespected by the organization they fight/fought for. And both are looking like severely mismanaged, squandered talents right now.

Missed opportunities in the fight game are an every day occurrence with top promoters like the UFC, who have literally hundreds of fighters to book and promote, and not enough face time to go around. Thus with unknown/unrecognized talents, overlooking one or two is sometimes expected.

With established talents like Tate and GSP, though? Maybe it’s time for the UFC to take a step back, and review things from the top down.

Here’s why:

Months ago, Miesha Tate, the number one contender in the women’s bantamweight division, was promised a title shot against Ronda Rousey. It would be her second shot at Rousey in the UFC, and their third fight overall (Rousey beat Tate to win the Strikeforce bantamweight title back in 2012).

Now, while being 0-2 entering a trilogy fight isn’t always the best place to be, especially with fickle fans, in Tate’s case, she had a strong win streak, and was at the time the only fighter to have taken Rousey past the first round. On top of that, Tate is one of the more visible, popular figures in women’s MMA, a former champ with everything required for stardom. Yet outside of Ronda Rousey, the UFC didn’t seem interested in building female stars, despite launching a strawweight division via The Ultimate Fighter 20 late last year. They were still acting, it seemed, as if they were in the Rousey business first and foremost.

That reluctance to build stars that might overshadow/compete with the Rousey Show became very apparent when Tate was passed over in favor of Holly Holm, a promising talent training with Jackson-Winklejohn. Few felt Holm was ready to dethrone Rousey, despite her status as a former multiple-time boxing champion. And the UFC did very little to promote Holm as anything other than the next piece of cannon fodder for their established star. Of course, Holm stunned the world and proved everyone wrong. Proving what we all know: the MMA Gods have a wonderful sense of timing.

However, before that all went down and the face of the division changed, Tate — the closest thing to a second star the division had at the time — was publicly mulling retirement. She was extremely upset at the snub, and rightfully so: having been promised the title shot, she had already begun training. Training takes time, effort, and money, after all.

UFC President Dana White’s response was telling: he more or less said go ahead. “In this sport, when you start thinking about retiring, you should retire” he told Submission Radio, when pressed on that Tate issue.

It showed a serious lack of foresight as a promoter. As Joe Rogan recently pointed out on his podcast (in more colorful words than these), Tate is a very marketable fighter. She has everything needed to be a huge star. Yet the UFC seemed content in using her as a gatekeeper.

Oddly enough, the snub seems to have helped her. This week, Forbes took notice, running an article entitled “UFC’s Miesha Tate Primed To Be MMA’s Next Mainstream Star” — this while Holm is quickly becoming MMA’s “It” girl, rubbing elbows with the likes of Jay-Z and Beyonce (whose name Holm famously forgot).

What the UFC needs to consider in the wake of Rousey’s first loss is that being in the Rousey business, while lucrative, prevents other stars from developing. The company needs to embrace the idea of being in the women’s MMA business  — which, to be fair, they seem to do a better job of down at strawweight. Maybe it’s a fear of ticking off Rousey (her and Tate are, after all, bitter rivals), but the division could easily boast two or three stars: Rousey, Tate, and now Holm, who has had more media attention than ever before over the past couple weeks, and who has handled with admirably.

If Tate and her potential stardom is a wasted opportunity, however, then the company’s handling of one of it’s biggest stars ever, Georges St. Pierre, is outright criminal. GSP has been publicly mulling a comeback, talking about having a training camp, yet again, Dana White — who should be working in the company’s best interests — has managed to rain on the parade, saying he “laughs” at the comeback talk, and feels GSP isn’t hungry enough to return.

Now, there’s a big question as to whether GSP should come back, as he’s one of the only high level fighters to go out on top, as champ, with no unavenged losses (sorry, Hendricks fans, but at the end of the day, a “close” fight/robbery is still a loss). He has also taken a ton of damage in the cage over the course of his career, spending more time than any other champ in the octagon.

Still, from a business perspective, you’d think White would at least let things play out.

Even more concerning, at least when it comes to questionable promoting, however, is the fact that it was the actions of White a few years ago, following GSP’s last fight to date, that have in part kept him out of the cage since: White infamously, following UFC 167, told reporters that the welterweight champion was unable to attend the post-fight press conference because he had been badly hurt and taken to hospital. St. Pierre, meanwhile, was waiting backstage, but was blocked by UFC staff when he tried to attend.

Speaking to Chael Sonnen on his You’re Welcome podcast, GSP stated “If this whole thing had not happened after the fight… maybe I would have already been back and maybe I would have given the rematch to Johny Hendricks,” adding later “I understand Dana was pissed because I was leaving with the belt. I got it. But he could have done it with a bit of better class, you know?”

And that’s the core of the whole issue: class. White has proven, time and again, that he has a hard time taking the high road — even when it’s detrimental to the company as a whole. At this point, the company seems to produce stars almost in spite of themselves. Now imagine how great they could be at it if they took the professional route, and developed stars proactively, while treating their existing fighters with the respect due.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.

  • Ammy Pearson

    I agree totally with you concerning George St. Pierre, but Meisha Tate, NO! She’s a gatekeeper at best. She is ranked 2nd but she’s not really 2nd. She lost to Zingano and her only exciting fights have ever been against Rousey. Her hands are terrible and Holm will destroy her. Right now there’s not a lot of talent in the women’s division, but give it ten years.