Long called a slow starter, Zingano rushed out at the UFC women’s bantamweight champion at the start of their Feb. 28 bout at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The challenger missed with a flying knee, then found herself trapped in a patented Rousey armbar. The contest was over in the blink of an eye.
But on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, Zingano, in her first interview since that night, said she’s not going to question herself for the way she handled the fight, which ended up in a 14-second submission loss.
“I wouldn’t change a thing about my approach,” Zingano said. “Had it been a couple inches in the other direction, it could have gone a completely different way.”
Zingano did, however, confess to the notion that she felt like she had something to prove to the critics who called her a slow starter.
“That was probably my biggest mistake,” Zingano said. “Really thinking about doing it for other people versus doing it for myself. As long as I stay true to myself in this sport and in my career, I am unstoppable. I felt like it was an unfair definition of me, I don’t think I’m a slow starter. For some reason, I let it get to me, so I was like, ‘okay, watch this.’ That kind of slapped me in the face. I was just, in retrospect its something I want to have a lot more control over and not let it get to my head.”
Unlike several of Rousey’s previous foes, Zingano didn’t come across as though she was in over her heard during UFC 184 fight week. She was composed and serene under an intense spotlight, and even felt calm on fight night as she prepared in her locker room.
“I felt almost a little too calm,” Zingano said. “The moment I was thinking about and grinding for for the last two years was finally there, and it was weird because I constantly thought about how I would feel, what I was going to be like. All the work was done, and it was just time to perform.”
If anything, Zingano sees the entire week, other than the result of the fight itself, as a positive. After all, getting caught is something that can happen to any fighter on any night. Zingano is 9-1, has defeated top names in the sport, and with a couple wins could find herself right back in contention for a shot at the title.
When that moment arrives, she’ll be able to draw from her experiences in the UFC’s main-event media spotlight.
“I’m thankful for everything,” Zingano said. “The avalanche of attention, the training camp, getting ready for such a big fight. One thing I can take from it, is that it’s all an experience to put in the book of life’s lessons. I plan on being at top, and fighting for that title whenever I can. I’ll know what it’s like to have done all these interviews, I’ll know what its like.”
Drawing nearly as much buzz as the fight’s fast finish was Zingano’s emotional, expletive-riddled interview in the Octagon with announcer Joe Rogan. Zingano explained Monday that she was still attempting to process what had just happened when she found the mic stuck in her face.
“It was really intense,” Zingano said. “I couldn’t believe what just had happened, it was hard because in any kind of sport, you go and compete, if you choke, if you fail like that, you have opportunity relatively soon to go fix it, a tournament the next weekend or something, or more matches or whatever. It was so fast and so final, a huge part of me, was like, ‘okay that’s fine, she won, but let’s fight, so we can still see what happens.’ I just trained really hard for that, I fought emotionally and physically very hard to get to that point. For it to be over that fast, I know I’m much better than that and I was not living up to m potential. It was really hard to grasp what was going on and put words to it.”
Zingano wants to face a fellow top contender next time she competes, though she does not have a specific fight or date lined up. In the meantime, she holds firm to her belief that should she get another opportunity to meet Rousey, the matchup wouldn’t go the same way as UFC 184.
“I think we know, our coaches knows, she knows, and the promotion knows 999 times out of a thousand that wouldn’t happen again,” Zingano said. “I think that sets us up for a really good fight, should they give us a rematch sometime soon. I’ll do whatever it takes to get to that point. It’s not a fluke, Ronda is very good and she caught that arm and that’s what happened. But, I’m a better athlete than what that showed of me and I want to fix it.”