Opinion: Kevin Harvick shared hard-won advice with UFC star Miesha Tate

Kevin Harvick and Miesha Tate are champions of their respective sports.

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Elite athletes approach life and its challenges different than most of us do. That’s a big part of why they are elite in the first place — the ability to separate themselves from the vast middle ground of humanity.

Over my many years covering NASCAR, I’ve been struck by how the best in the sport think and how they go about doing their jobs.

A couple of weeks ago in Phoenix, I sat down with Kevin Harvick, the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, to talk about Miesha Tate, the newly minted UFC women’s bantamweight champion.

Tate lost two prior title fights to Ronda Rousey, but she stunned many with a chokehold of Holly Holm in Las Vegas the weekend of the Sprint Cup race there.

Now, she has the opportunity of a lifetime to capitalize on the success that a championship brings with it. And she’s counting on Harvick to help her do it right.

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KHI Management, the full-service celebrity-marketing agency run by Harvick and his wife, DeLana, represents Tate, UFC athlete Cowboy Cerrone, musician Jake Owen and numerous other stars in various disciplines.

In addition to being one of NASCAR’s elite drivers, Harvick has been around long enough to know the pros, the cons and the pitfalls of life as a celebrity. So I asked him what advice he’d given Tate since she became champion.

"It’s basically trying to make sure you make the right decisions on what the path is going to be going forward," Harvick told me. "You just don’t want to jump right in and say, ‘We’re going to take everything that we have and try to cash all the checks.’ You want to make the brand stronger."

And that means one thing: Keep winning.

"In the end, the thing that gets you to winning a championship is being dedicated to what you do, always trying to get better," said Harvick. "You can’t sit on your hands and you can’t worry about the show more than the task. The task is still what made the champion.

"Being a champion and winning fights or races — whatever it is — has to continue to happen, because in the end, people might think they’re a good actor or they’re going to draw this much money for personal appearances, but none of that matters if you’re not winning."

Sound advice, for sure.

And hard-won advice backed by more than 15 years of NASCAR racing experience. Time will tell whether Tate will build on her championship, but it’s pretty clear Harvick already has built on his.