Cat Zingano. Still Clawing Her Way to the Top?

Cat Zingano is an experienced American mixed martial artist who has competed in numerous high-profile MMA organizations including UFC and Bellator (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_Zingano). She made her professional MMA debut in 2008 and went on to compile an impressive undefeated record through the first part of her career. Zingano earned a UFC title shot in 2013 after winning her first two UFC fights, but injuries and personal setbacks prevented her from competing for the title at that time. Now 37 years old, Zingano is still an active fighter today and looking to make one more run at a UFC championship before she retires.

Zingano’s Early Success

Cat Zingano first made waves in the UFC with an impressive debut win against Miesha Tate at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale in 2013. Zingano came back from nearly being finished in round 1 to secure a TKO victory late in round 3 (https://www.espn.com/mma/fight/220812). This win earned Fight of the Night honors and a title shot against Ronda Rousey.

Zingano followed up her debut with another thrilling win, this time defeating Amanda Nunes by TKO at UFC 178 in 2014. She was able to weather an early storm from Nunes before capitalizing on her opponent’s fatigue to get the finish late in round 3 (https://www.espn.com/mma/fight/41503). This win showed Zingano’s durability and ability to implement her gameplan against elite competition.

These back-to-back wins demonstrated Zingano’s talent and proved she could compete with the best in the UFC’s burgeoning women’s bantamweight division. Her aggressive yet technical style made her an immediate title contender.

First UFC Title Shot

zingano got a title shot versus rousey
In 2014, Zingano earned her first shot at the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship. She faced off against dominant champion Ronda Rousey at UFC 184 in Los Angeles. Going into the fight, Rousey was undefeated with 10 straight wins to start her MMA career.

Despite Zingano’s 7-0 record at the time, she entered the bout as a major underdog against Rousey. However, Zingano was still seen as one of the toughest challengers Rousey had faced.

The championship match didn’t last long. Rousey quickly took Zingano to the ground and submitted her with an armbar just 14 seconds into the very first round. It was the fastest finish ever in a UFC title fight.

Although she came up short, competing for the championship cemented Zingano’s status as an elite fighter in the division. She demonstrated she could compete at the highest levels of women’s MMA.

Injuries and Setbacks

injuries hampered zingano's career

Zingano has faced several significant injuries throughout her MMA career that have kept her out of competition for extended periods of time. In May 2013, just two months before she was scheduled to challenge Ronda Rousey for the UFC women’s bantamweight title, Zingano suffered a major knee injury that required reconstructive surgery.1 She tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), medial collateral ligament (MCL), and meniscus in her right knee, which she described as going “snap, crackle, pop.” This injury forced her out of The Ultimate Fighter season 18 coaching spot opposite Rousey and delayed her title shot.

After over a year of rehabbing her knee, Zingano returned to competition in September 2014 but suffered another setback when she tore her ACL again. This required a second major knee surgery and sidelined Zingano until July 2016, when she finally made her comeback by defeating Julianna Pena via third round TKO.

Recent Fights and Results

Despite her age of 40 years old, Zingano continues to remain active in the UFC women’s bantamweight division. In 2021, Zingano competed twice. She faced Pannie Kianzad at UFC Fight Night 184 in February, losing via unanimous decision (url: https://www.sherdog.com/fighter/Cat-Zingano-33932). Zingano then faced Macy Chiasson at UFC Fight Night 192 in October, winning via TKO in round 3 (url: https://www.espn.com/mma/fighter/_/id/2987934/cat-zingano).

In 2022, Zingano faced Ketlen Vieira at UFC Fight Night 203 in March. She lost the fight via split decision in a close, back-and-forth battle (url: http://ufcstats.com/fighter-details/3ecd936bd8814108). Despite the loss, Zingano proved she can still compete with the top contenders in the division at age 40.

Most recently in September 2022, Zingano moved up to featherweight to face Taila Santos at UFC 278. She won the fight via TKO in the first round, proving she still has finishing power against top competition (url: https://www.sherdog.com/fighter/Cat-Zingano-33932).

Training and Preparation

Cat Zingano is currently training at her home gym, Zingano Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Denver, Colorado to prepare for her upcoming fight. She trains with her husband Mauricio Zingano, who is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, and other coaches and training partners at the gym.

Zingano’s training for this camp has focused on improving her overall MMA game, with a mix of striking, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu training. She starts each day with strength and conditioning work before moving on to technique drills and sparring. Some of her preparation has focused on shoring up weaknesses and improving her takedown defense against wrestlers.

In training footage leading up to the fight, Zingano looks to be in excellent physical condition and is showing crisp, technical striking https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4otq9vHslgs. She appears focused and determined to get back in the win column and work her way towards another title shot.

Upcoming Fight

zingano fights cyborg for the title

Zingano is scheduled to fight Cris Cyborg at Bellator 300 on October 29, 2022 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois (source). This will be a featherweight title fight, with Cyborg defending her 145-pound championship against Zingano.

Cyborg is considered one of the greatest female MMA fighters of all time and has held titles in Strikeforce, Invicta FC, UFC, and now Bellator. She boasts a record of 25-2 and has not lost since 2005. Meanwhile, Zingano is 12-5 in her pro career.

This fight represents a long-awaited showdown between the two veterans. They were briefly supposed to fight in 2013 when they were both in the UFC, but the bout fell through. Now, nearly 10 years later, they finally have the opportunity to step into the cage against one another with a championship on the line (source).

Keys to Victory

For Zingano to win her upcoming fight, she needs to utilize her strength and experience to overcome her opponent. As noted in the Bellator Fight Breakdowns video, Zingano should look to use her powerful striking and clinch work to do damage. She has excellent Muay Thai skills and hits hard, which could trouble her opponent if she lands clean shots. Zingano also has a strong grappling game, with a wrestling background and a dangerous ground and pound attack. If she can take the fight to the mat, she could overwhelm her opponent with strikes from top position.

However, she cannot rely too much on her power and physicality. As seen in her bout with Amanda Nunes, overwhelming offense can leave openings for counters. Zingano must fight intelligently, mixing up her striking and takedowns while maintaining solid defense. Remaining patient and composed will also be key. Her experience against top competition should help her implement an effective strategy to pick her spots and capitalize on openings.

keys to victory for zingano

Overall, Zingano can win by playing to her strengths as a powerful, well-rounded fighter, while minimizing mistakes. Intelligent pressure, crisp striking, and perfectly timed takedowns will make the difference if she executes at her best.

Zingano’s Future

Win or lose at Bellator 300, Zingano still has an exciting future ahead of her in MMA. If she defeats Cyborg and captures the Bellator women’s featherweight title, Zingano will look to have an active championship reign with several title defenses. At age 40, her window to hold a major MMA title may be closing, so Zingano will aim to make the most of this opportunity. She has mentioned wanting big fights with the likes of Kayla Harrison if she becomes champion.

However, if Zingano loses to Cyborg, she won’t fall too far down the rankings and will likely remain near the top contender spot. Zingano is still an elite featherweight, so she would likely only be one or two wins away from fighting for the title again. Her experience and toughness means Zingano should have several more high-profile fights left in her career. And with her infectious personality, Zingano will continue being a fan favorite win or lose at Bellator 300.

Conclusion

In summary, Cat Zingano is still an active MMA fighter but is nearing the end of her career. She burst onto the scene with an undefeated record but suffered setbacks after losses to Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes. Though she’s no longer a title contender, Zingano continues to compete against top talent. Her legacy is defined by being a pioneer in women’s MMA and a well-rounded fighter, known for her strong clinch work and fierce determination. While a championship belt has eluded her, Zingano has cemented her place as one of the most popular and respected fighters in the sport’s history. As she enters the twilight of her career, fans continue to rally behind the woman affectionately known as “Alpha” Cat.

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