Former Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight title challenger Cat Zingano makes her long-awaited Saturday at UFC 222 against undefeated submission specialist Ketlen Vieira in what people are calling a potential No. 1 contender bout.
Zingano, 35, has not fought since her loss to Julianna Pena back in July of 2016. In fact, the last time she fought more than once in a calendar year was in 2010.
Zingano (9-2) is currently on a two-fight losing streak, but has only faced top five ranked fighters since joining the UFC. She is confident that she can overcome the injuries that have crippled her career and that she can hang with the best of the division, especially considering she has beaten the current champion Amanda Nunes and the next in line to fight the champion, Raquel Pennington. As far as Zingano is concerned, it’s her body rather than her ability that has let her down.
In the fight against the current champion Nunes, the Brazilian came out swinging in the opening round and took the fight to Zingano. Zingano weathered the storm and eventually utilised her wrestling and completely dominated Nunes and finished her by TKO.
Talking with MMA Junkie Radio, Zingano mentioned the difficulties heading into that fight with Nunes and the improvements both fighters have made to their game.
“She says she’s improved since then, but there’s no way I didn’t improve since then,” Zingano told MMAjunkie Radio. “I didn’t stop training, and that was my first fight back after blowing my knee. It was the first fight back after losing my husband and coach to suicide and having a completely different camp -- and having no idea what I was going to do with myself now that there’s a new normal.
“Everything is different now, so to think that I haven’t improved since then, or that was even my best – that’s ridiculous. She had everything in her favor that fight. Everything in her favor in that fight, and I still broke her.”
Right now, Zingano is solely focused on the fight this weekend against the undefeated Vieira and acknowledges the danger the Brazilian possesses.
“This fight, they said it has potential to be a No. 1 contender fight,” Zingano said. “That could be one fight away; that could be two fights away. Either way, I’m focused on this fight, I’m focused on getting through this one in the most fantastic way possible. Of course I want those title shots. Of course I want to jump right back in to where I left off and do everything the way that I know I’m capable of doing. I also understand there’s a patience that comes with it and a believing in myself that comes with it, and taking little steps to get to the big steps.”
“Ketlen is not a joke,” Zingano said. “She’s a great fighter, and she’s done good. I know what it’s like to be undefeated and to put that pressure on her and do everything I need to do to end up breaking her down from that feeling, I’ve got work to do. It’s a dangerous fighter that’s undefeated. But what’s next is still to be written.”