A little over a month from now, all eyes will be on the women’s 135-pound division in the highly anticipated main event between Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche at UFC 157. This is likely just the first of many exciting fights that will be coming our way in the UFC’s newest division. That means even more ladies will be getting the chance to step into the octagon throughout 2013. And while no other fighters have been officially added to the roster yet, we are starting to see some major groundswell for one fighter in particular.
Cat Zingano is perhaps the “next big thing” in women’s MMA and she’s not here to mess around. Zingano has her sights set on former Strikeforce world champion Miesha Tate, and she’d like it to happen sooner rather than later.
“The type of person I am,” Zingano told VigilanteMMA, “I want to go for the top immediately. But I also know that in order to get to the best (Rousey), I need to fight the best. Someone that I’m very interested in at the moment is Miesha Tate. I think that would be a really good tough fight. I think she’d be a good start for me.”
While her more famous counterpart, Rousey, has been running through opponents—including Zingano’s target, Tate—with armbar after armbar, Zingano has taken a much more diverse, and equally devastating path to her own 7-0 pro record. With a near-perfect finishing rate, she has stopped her overwhelmed opponents with punches, elbows and even a massive powerbomb on her way to three KO wins. Likewise, the world-class Jiu Jitsu ace—she was the only U.S. female to qualify for Abu Dhabi in 2011—has also tapped out her fair share via rear naked and anaconda chokes and an armbar of her own.
When I mentioned her name to an MMA insider who’s seen her train and fight on many occasions, I was told, “she’s fucking mean…super mean!” Of course, that’s in reference to her demeanor inside the cage. Outside the cage, she’s reluctant to stir up controversy. She’s not a trash talker; she just wants to be the best in the world.
“I’m looking forward to competing for the belt in the UFC,” she said matter-of-factly. “I really want to go get it—that’s my wish for 2013.” Zingano has a smooth way of being both understated and intimidating at the same time. She announced her goal of fighting for the world title as though most people resolve to “start exercising in 2013.”
Despite her lofty goal, it really isn’t a stretch either. Her aggression once the bell rings is almost shocking. She’s already gotten a major taste for being “the best” and it becomes addictive. In 2008, she was the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world champion; in 2010, she was crowned the NAGA champion; and as mentioned, the next year she was the only U.S. woman to earn a trip to the ADCC championships in Abu Dhabi.
While in Abu Dhabi an unfortunate wild card was tossed in her direction; but the story only adds to her mystique as a real problem for Tate—and potentially Rousey. Once ADCC officials got a look at Zingano—who was competing at her normal 125-pound class—they were taken aback by her size and strength. In an unprecedented move, they ordered her to successfully weigh in before EVERY match, not just before the event, as is customary. Obviously, cutting weight multiple times for one event was preposterous—and unhealthy—so she had to withdraw from a competition she likely would have won.
With such a decorated grappling career—she typically competed in men’s “open” class tournaments—you’d think Zingano would take every fight to the ground. Not so. In fact, her striking coach is Muay Thai legend and 5 time world champion Sakmongkol Sitchuchoke, who has polished her standup to the point that she’s just as destructive trading blows as she is on the mat. She’s a true all-around threat to everyone in the division.
All those weapons spell serious trouble for Tate, who is as well-known as any fighter in the world not named Rousey or Cyborg. The question isn’t whether Zingano can hang with the former #1 135 pounder in the world; the question is can she convince Tate to accept the fight?
As the women’s division becomes more and more prevalent in the UFC, fans will be treated to talent they weren’t able to see regularly in the past. If you’re looking for a fighter to roll the dice on, you should probably pay attention to Zingano. While she lets her fighting do most of the talking, she doesn’t think there’s anyone in the division who has the upper hand on her. “I think I’m the one to beat,” she said. If Zingano’s plan to get Tate inside the cage comes to fruition, it won’t be long before everyone else is forced to agree with her.
If you liked this article, please FRIEND US on Facebook.