Cat Zingano thought it was interesting, but unsurprisingly, when she learned last month that Miesha Tate would be returning to battle in the UFC. Zingano defeated Tate by TKO in the third round in 2013, one of the first fights that shaped the women’s bantamweight division.
Then she saw Tate’s returning opponent: Marion Reneau. Zingano also has a win over her. In fact, Zingano is also the latest fighter to defeat UFC bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes, won by TKO in 2014.
For Zingano, Tate’s announcement was a consolidation of the fact that she is still very relevant in today’s women’s MMA landscape.
“It’s weird, because I beat all these girls,” Zingano said. “Marion is the only one that I haven’t finished. It’s interesting to be in the mix of everything that’s going on. I’d love to see where we are now. I’d love to find a way to make it work. One day. “
This could prove difficult as Zingano is now participating in the Bellator. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see those rematch, but Zingano has another big name fighter on his sights right now: Cris Cyborg, the Bellator Women’s Featherweight Champion.
Zingano will face Olivia Parker at the Bellator 256 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut on Friday in her second official featherweight bout. If she wins, Zingano said, she will call for a title fight against Cyborg.
“This is what I ask for and this is what I work for,” Zingano said. “I plan to do a good show [Friday] and really pull together and do my best, so that [the fight against Cyborg] is something that is considered undeniable. So we’ll see. This is the plan. This is the goal. This has been the goal for a long time. “
Zingano (11-4) also has a bigger life goal. Shortly after making her Bellator debut last September with a unanimous decision over Gabby Holloway, she began working with Bold.org on ways for her to give back. Zingano told ESPN this week she is starting a $ 10,000 scholarship for students mourning the loss of a loved one and who are in debt.
Zingano, 38, experienced her mother’s death from brain cancer while in college. Her husband and head coach, Mauricio, committed suicide in 2014, leaving her a single mother to their son, Brayden, who is now 14. Zingano said she remembers feeling “broken and devastated” when her mother passed away and struggled to repay her student loans. Mauricio’s death led to a similar sense of devastation. Now, Zingano is looking to help others go through difficult life events.
“I really wanted to get things done, because I feel like I’m doing pretty well now,” Zingano said. “We still have our adjustments to make every day, but in terms of moving forward I’m able to have some consistency with that.”
Zingano said that although gyms were closed in California due to the pandemic, she tried to make the most of the unique experience of being isolated at home. She made up for some well-deserved rest and personal time with her son. Brayden has returned to doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu for the first time since his father’s death, and he will be wrestling for his school this season, which Zingano called a “big deal”.
“I felt it was precious and so important,” Zingano said of the time she and Brayden spent together during the pandemic. “We’re both homebodies. It wasn’t a huge struggle not to get out of the pajamas, for the most part.”
But now he’s back to work, it’s time for her to continue adding to her pioneering career in women’s MMA. All road signs point to Cyborg, provided Cyborg beats Leslie Smith on May 21 and Zingano beats Parker on Friday.
“This is the third opponent I have for this fight,” Zingano said. “I have trained so much in so many different ways. I feel ready for the expectation, I am ready for the unexpected.”