miesha-tate-ufc-168 While there have been some rumblings that managers aren’t a necessity in MMA, UFC women’s bantamweight contender Miesha Tate (14-5 MMA, 1-2 UFC) doesn’t agree, and she’s joined the client list at NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick’s KHI Management.
“If you’re just here to fight, and that’s all you care about, you’re right: You don’t need a manager,” Tate told MMAjunkie. “You just need to show up and be in shape, and you need to win fights. But for me, I really want to expand beyond that. I want to be a household name. I want to build my brand, and I think that’s what KHI is all about. I think that’s why we’re on the same page.
“I’m not limiting myself to anything and I’m not stuck on one thing, but I have a direction. The direction I want to go is up, and I think KHI is on the same page as me with that. I think they’re going to help me expand my brand in a number of ways.” Tate is currently ranked as the No. 2 contender in the UFC’s latest women’s bantamweight rankings. A former Strikeforce champion, Tate has become one of the most identifiable stars in the UFC through a strong media presence, not to mention her longstanding rivalry with current UFC champion Ronda Rousey. Tate turns 28 years old on Monday, and she said signing with KHI was a moved inspired by her desire to begin considering her post-fighting options.
“One day, when physically I’m not able to fight anymore, I want things that are able to carry me,” Tate said. “That’s really what it’s about. I want the whole package. I don’t want to just think about the here and the now, and I think that’s a mistake that a lot of fighters make. Here and now is important, but also so is your future.
“MMA is a relatively short-lived career. You’re lucky to be fighting into your mid-40s, and that would be considered a long MMA career. I don’t potentially see myself fighting into my 40s, so I’m working now to make those transitions.”
Harvick is a longtime NASCAR driver who’s currently ranked No. 8 in the latest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings. Co-owned by Harvick and his wife, DeLana, KHI Management recently expanded its focus to opportunities outside the world of motor sports and now represents PGA golfer Jason Gore, country music artists Jake Owen and Matt Stillwell and top-ranked UFC lightweight Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
Tate said Cerrone’s success – and not necessarily just with his fighting – was a big reason for her considering KHI Management.
“I noticed that ‘Cowboy’s’ sponsors were way cooler than everyone else’s sponsors for his last few fights,” Tate joked.
Tate said her boyfriend, Bryan Caraway, recommended she consider KHI Management and that she began talking with Cerrone about the possibility when the two competed on the same card at this past April’s UFC on FOX 11 event.
“‘Cowboy’ was very positive about his management, which to be honest, is not something you hear a lot in MMA,” Tate said. “You don’t hear a lot of MMA fighters bragging about their management and how great their management is. It’s actually pretty rare. So when he spoke so highly of them, it kind of piqued my interest.”
Tate said the firm is already earning its keep, and she’ll boast such sponsors as E-Z-Go, Qore24, Budweiser, Textron’s Pro-Fit Parts and Affliction for her appearance at next month’s UFC Fight Night 52 event, with a few more deals potentially in the works.
“They’re very efficient,” Tate said of her new management. “They get stuff done. I’m absolutely thrilled that I know pretty much all of my sponsors. We potentially might bring on one more, but I already know what all of my sponsors are for this fight. That’s never happened for me before.
“Normally, I don’t know what my sponsors are until at least within two weeks of the fight, if not the week of the fight. I usually don’t get my fight uniform until the day before weigh-ins, which is the last possible moment you can do it because the UFC has to check your gear and all that. It’s just not the way at all that KHI functions. I love that. I absolutely love it. I’m thrilled to be a part of something so awesome.”
Tate said she hopes to leverage Harvick’s relationship with FOX into a few more on-air opportunities, as well as look to NASCAR for cross-promotional possibilities.
Harvick believes his firm will have no problem helping Tate achieve her goals.
“I don’t like it when people are treated unfairly, and I feel like there’s a fair way to treat the fighters and make sure they get what they need beforehand and don’t give up half their salary to have somebody doing what really doesn’t take a tremendous amount of work,” Harvick said. “In the end, I want the athlete or the entertainer to feel like we’re doing a good job and to be treated fairly and not feel like they’re giving up the bank to have to make it happen.”
Tate faces Rin Nakai at UFC Fight Night 52, which takes place Sept. 20 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The entire card streams on UFC Fight Pass. For more on UFC Fight Night 52, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Miesha Tate)