Cat Zingano returned after 17 months out of the Octagon and scored a come-from-behind TKO victory over the Brazilian, Amanda Nunes. The 32-year old Zingano was the No. 1 contender in the division and slated to coach opposite Rousey on The Ultimate Fighter 18 last year, but a knee injury sidelined her for an extended period of time.
After that, the contenders began to pass her by. But just as the question of who Rousey would face next got to a shoulder-shrugging point, Zingano’s performance on Saturday night was enough for UFC president Dana White to bump her into a title fight with Rousey.
“Yes, yeah, [Zingano]‘s in,” White said at the UFC 178 post-fight press conference. “This is what I’m assuming, and you guys probably didn’t hear it, but she was screaming at me after the fight. She ran over and started screaming, ‘do you see me? Do you see me?’ Yes, I see you. This was the shut-up about Gina Carano I think. I think that’s what Cat, [that's] the statement she wanted to make tonight, and she made it loud and clear.”
Zingano was getting busted up by Nunes early at the MGM Grand on Saturday night. After getting taken down in the first round, she took punishment for a large portion of the round and looked to be in trouble. However, from the late first round on it became the Broomfield, Colorado native’s fight. She dominated the second round, throwing Nunes to the canvas and working ground and pound. She did the same thing in the third, before finishing her with flurry midway through.
“She’s been away for awhile, she had some injuries,” White said of Zingano. “She was dealing with some personal problems, but she is back. The fans needed to see her, and she needed to remind everybody why she was in line for a title fight. She did it tonight.”
Rousey, who was on hand in Las Vegas to see the fight, was all smiles after Zingano had her arm raised.
When asked what she brings to the table to challenge Rousey that other contenders haven’t, Zingano (9-0) said it was a combination of things.
“I just think the caliber of athlete, the intensity that I bring,” she said in the press conference. “I feel like I just bring something different to everything. I’m game.”