Inside MMA’s Ron Kruck sat down with the #3 women’s bantamweight contender Cat Zingano in an interview that aired Friday night on AXS tv. Zingano, who holds stoppage victories over two of the hottest fighters in her division, 4th ranked Amanda Nunes and the reigning champion Meisha Tate, discusses how she’s spent her almost 13 month lay-off from the sport since her loss at UFC 184, and who her next opponent may be.
“Being that I’ve had a year off they really want me to come back and have a tune-up fight. The fight I want the most, clearly, is Meisha. Seeing her win that fight, and in the fashion that she won the fight, it definitely put a fire in my spirit to get back out there and fight her.”
“When I blew my knee I had just beaten Meisha, and Meisha off a loss with me was still handed my title shot, so I really don’t think the logistics of coming off a loss or this or that especially in this case should really be that stood by. But the UFC’s gonna do what they’re gonna do. Obviously that’s the fight I want, but I’m not looking past this opponent. This is a very, very valid opponent and it’s going to be a super exciting fight and I’m super stoked for what you guys are going to see because I know as soon as you hear it (the fight announcement) you’re going to be like ‘ahh’ (she smiles excitedly). “
“The UFC has to be the one to break it. It’s going to be epic. You’re going to love it. It’s going to be the beginning of the summer. My birthday is July 1st so I’ll just let you know it’s going to be an early or a late birthday present.”
After the interview aired host Mauro Ranallo squashed the Zingano vs Christiane “Cyborg” Justino rumors.
“Just to put any rumors to bed Cat told Ron off camera that a potential fight with Chris Cyborg is not going to happen.”
I’m going to put on my matchmaker hat and do a bit of speculation given this recent news. With the Cyborg rumor laid to rest, and the news that Cat will not be fighting Tate, that allows us to narrow down Cat’s likely opponent. With the the 6 and 7 ranked fighter’s Jessica Eye and Sara Mcmann matched up and a precipitous drop-off in talent level beyond them, in my opinion, we’re left with Julianna Pena, Holly Holm, or Amanda Nunes. I’m eliminating Holm since her loss is so recent and she’s probably angling for a rematch with Tate at 200. Since Cat has finished Nunes already the fight that makes the most sense is Julianna Pena. This would also free up Nunes, who’s large for the division, to possibly take on the featherweight Cyborg at a catch weight of 140 or maybe even at featherweight.
Zingano also spoke about the need for some time off and how she’s worked on improving her game.
“I had some pretty big bumps and bruises that I needed to take care of as far as physically. On a personal note I’m doing all this for me and my son and that gives me more responsibility than any of these people have to deal with. I worked a lot on the mental aspect of it. I took a trip to Thailand, you know, I visited a bunch of different gyms, places where I’ve always wanted to train and get technique and education from people that I really look up to. I feel like I’ve improved 110% and I’m going to go out there and showcase it.”
On Joe Rogan’s Fight Companion podcast (a show where Rogan and his friends, often including Brendan Shaub and 10th Planet Jujitsu founder Eddie Bravo, speak on mostly fight related topics during events that Joe isn’t working) he said that Zingano had been dealing with concussion issues stemming back from the Nunes fight.
A member of team Musclepharm in Colorado, Cat has also spent some time training at Blackhouse MMA in California and Blackhouse in Thailand as well. Judging from her Instagram account she made the rounds overseas training at many gyms including (but not limited to) AKA Thailand, Phuket Top Team, and Fairtex Muaythai Training Center. Cat already has a track record of brutalizing opponents with the art of eight limbs. It’s exciting to imagine what an even better Zingano can accomplish in the octagon.