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Former UFC champion Miesha Tate floored Marion Reneau before forcing the referee to step in after pounding her opponent in the head, earning the mother-of-two a violently triumphant return after five years out of the sport.

One of the most anticipated comeback stories of the year, revered Tate showed little ring-rustiness in a convincing victory that handed tough Reneau her first ever professional knockout defeat in the third round in Las Vegas.

The 34-year-old had spoken of her excitement at returning for the first time since her defeats to Amanda Nunes and Raquel Pennington in 2016, and she could now take on Holly Holm, who was her previous victim via a submission at UFC 196 that earned her the bantamweight title in March of that year.

“I want to let this victory settle,” ‘Cupcake’ said afterwards. “I don’t want to be in a rush, but of course I’m a woman on a mission. I do want to get to the top. I think a fight by the end of the year is reasonable.

SHE’S BACK! 🙌🧁 It’s time to welcome @MieshaTate’s return to the Octagon. #UFCVegas31pic.twitter.com/SxeaD0KJD0

After a 5-year absence @MieshaTate made a triumphant return to the Octagon! 🧁#UFCVegas31pic.twitter.com/QwhrG94mnJ

“I’m going to go home, kiss my babies, enjoy this hard-earned victory, and in the next few weeks, my management and my team will re-group and we’ll talk to [bosses] and we’ll get something lined up.

“They’re all fair game – they can all get it, respectfully. I expect them to come out of the woodwork. I think a second fight with Holly would be great.

“There are a lot of women in the division, so name them all. I don’t know where I’ll come in the rankings right now, but I’m never one to say I deserve this or that.

🏆 The bantamweight belt is on @MieshaTate’s mind after that performance! #UFCVegas31pic.twitter.com/GPT2V6G2A4

Wow!!! Mama Tate is back in a strong way. 😳Congratulations @MieshaTate 👏🏾#UFCVegas31pic.twitter.com/j11bA7Anom

“I understand I have to continue to climb. But whoever’s name is on that list to get to the top, that’s fine with me.

“And I’m sure Holly and I, I have no doubt about it, will fight again.”

Current champion Nunes has won her last 12 fights, stretching back to September 14 and including that first-round win over Tate at UFC 200 and a victory over Holm two years ago.

me watching a Miesha Tate fight with my GF:#UFCVegas31pic.twitter.com/gezcc8GHyG

Tate clearly believes that she can avenge her defeat against the two-division champion, explaining that she believes she is yet to fulfill her potential in MMA.

“This is why I couldn’t stay retire,” she said of her dominant display against Reneau.

“I felt like I had so much more to give and there’s truly a better version of myself. I didn’t want to leave thinking I didn’t put my best foot forward.”