Former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Miesha Tate is looking to catapult herself back into title contention with victory on her long-awaited return to the cage on Saturday night. But she explained that her assignment against Marion Reneau is anything but easy.

“I think Marion is great,” Tate told reporters at the media day session in Las Vegas ahead of fight night.

“I just really admire her. I think she’s very solid. I don’t think she has a lot of holes in her game. 

“She’s a black belt in jiu-jitsu. She has that strong submission over Sara McMann, so impressive. She has a great submission over Jessica Andrade, and she stays in fights. You know, the fights she has lost have always been very close. She’s lost a number of split decisions.

“She’s been on the verge of being a contender a number of times, and she just didn’t get her break, but the way that I look at this fight and the Marion Reneau that I prepared for is a mother who’s going to have her son in the corner for the first time, who’s going to look at somebody that matters between rounds and say, ‘I don’t want to let that person down.’ You know what I mean? 

“I could only imagine as a mother if I physically saw my children between the rounds – like, it’s going to charge her, and she’s going to come, and she’s going to bring it. 

“This is the fight, according to her, that she’s always wanted. She’s always wanted to fight me, and there’s nothing left. It’s her retirement fight, so what does she have to save for?  There’s no title fight on the horizon, there’s nothing else. So I think for her she’s going to bring everything that she has. 

“So I’ve really had that mindset the entire camp that there is no underestimating this woman. A lot of people might, they might look at her record and say, ‘It’s not the best.’ But she’s never been finished in the UFC. How about that? 

“Who else can say that? Not many women. Not even the champion Amanda can say that. I can’t say that. Holly can’t say that.  A lot of the very best women in this division – Julianna, fighting for a world title, she can’t say that. But Marion can … I’m expecting her to bring it.”

Tate is looking in the best shape of her life heading into fight night, and she’s clearly under no illusions about how tough her bout with Reneau could be.

But, while “Cupcake” is ready for a difficult night at the UFC Apex on Saturday night, she’s relishing being back in the mix again and being a part of a UFC fight week for the first time in more than four and a half years.

“If feels damn good to say it’s fight week,” she grinned.

“It’s like that old friend that you haven’t talked to in years, and you call him up and you haven’t skipped a beat.

“You know, that’s how I feel. I just feel at home with this. It’s very natural, and I’m the happiest to be here that I’ve been in a very long time.”