Cat Zingano is well-versed in the art of the comeback. | Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
When attempting to calculate Cat Zingano’s upset prospects at UFC 184, footage of her last two Octagon appearances can simultaneously be sources of encouragement and dismay.
The good: In victories over Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes, Zingano rallied from slow starts to win via third-round technical knockout on both occasions. That toughness and ability to persevere through adversity has gotten reigning bantamweight queen Ronda Rousey’s attention.
“I think that Cat's resilience is one of the things that has really impressed me about her the most. And I think that's what's really gotten her most of her fans. It’s not just the way that she fights but the way that she endures,” Rousey said during a recent conference call. “She's not one of those people that can start losing a fight and you can count on them being a front runner and just beating themselves. She's one of those people that has to be finished all the way until the very, very end and I'm ready for that.”
The bad: Highlighting one of Zingano’s most admirable qualities in the cage exposes a flaw -- those slow starts -- that might ultimately lead to her demise in Saturday’s headliner at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Rousey has a tendency to come firing out of the gates -- nine of her 10 career triumphs have ended inside of a round -- leaving her opponents little time to get acclimated.
Therein lies the problem for Zingano, who admitted that she ”got woken up in the second round” against Tate and appeared to be in serious danger after absorbing a barrage of ground-and-pound from Nunes in the opening frame at UFC 178. Both times, Zingano ultimately prevailed.
With that said, the Colorado native has a different perspective on what others might perceive as her greatest weakness.
“I figured out these last couple starts I had there's a lot going on, but I always know that I go out there and I make it work,” she said. “So my fight with Amanda, I wouldn't have considered it a slow start. I went close to her and tried to throw her, and I slipped so I ended up on bottom for a minute. But it didn't matter; I worked it out. I'm a bigger, better fighter. I get better every time, and that's what I plan on doing.”
Zingano has endured more adversity outside the Octagon than in it on her road to bantamweight gold. Shortly after beating Tate at the “TUF 17” finale, Zingano had to undergo surgery for a torn ACL, which cost her a spot coaching opposite Rousey on “TUF 18” as well as a title shot at UFC 168. Then, in January, Zingano’s husband and longtime coach, Mauricio Zingano, committed suicide.
After going through more than a year of trials and tribulations, defending an armbar from the scariest woman in MMA might not be such a big deal. Zingano is confident that Rousey has yet to see anyone like her in the UFC.
“I'm different. I know she knows that; I know the whole promotion knows that,” Zingano said. “I have things to offer that people haven't seen before and it's just I just have to be me, I have do me, go out there with my intensity and my aggression and I'm unstoppable. I know that.”