The fight that was supposed to happen between “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey and “Alpha” Cat Zingano a year and a half ago is now finally going to happen on January 3rd, 2015.
Does Zingano have what it takes to unseat Rousey as bantamweight champ? To even consider challenging a well-rounded fighter like Rousey, you have to have something more than just exceptional striking and ground work, you have to have heart. In UFC 178’s fight versus Amanda “The Lioness” Nunez, Zingano showed the world that she has the heart of a champion.
It was a hard-earned win for Zingano after almost three brutal rounds, and a satisfied smile from Rousey watching in the stands says she wouldn’t want it any other way. Cat Zingano left little doubt that she’s the best contender for Ronda Rousey. Many thought the ref would call the fight in the first round when Nunez gave Zingano a beating that left the 32 year old fighter barely defending, sitting on the mat and trying to coax Nunez into a ground battle, but Zingano wouldn’t give up. “I wasn’t done” she said of the first round in the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. To the crowd’s amazement, she came back in the second round, seemingly uninjured even after an onslaught of head shots. As Nunez’s energy and resolve waned, Zingano’s ramped up as she went for the ground and pound. The fight was stopped seconds after blood exploded from Nunez’s face under a flurry of heavy punches and Zingano stood to raise her arms in victory with an exhausted look.
She seemed nothing but eager in the post-fight interview, however, and that night UFC president Dana White announced, to the delight of UFC fans everywhere, that Zingano would be the next to challenge Rousey for the women’s bantamweight title in January. Zingano was supposed to coach Ultimate Fighter 18 opposite Rousey but had to bow out due to a knee injury. Although disappointing, this allowed us to bask in the guilty pleasure that is the epic rivalry between Ronda Rousey and fellow MMA fighter Meisha Tate, who filled Zingano’s spot as the other coach.
After two losses for Tate against Rousey, Sarah McMann seemed the best contender to defeat the unstoppable armbar machine. She met her doom after 16 short seconds in the ring however, as Rousey showed the world that she can do more than just armbars and throws. Since then, the name Cyborg has been on every fan’s lips as the favorite to be next in line to take a shot at Rousey, that is until Zingano’s return was announced. Will Cat Zingano be a match for the champ? If it comes down to endurance and guts, yes.
As for the Lioness, Amanda Nunez has a bright future in MMA despite her loss. She showed us pure ferocity as well as technical skill in a fight that could have easily been scored in her favor right up until the end.
By Julie Ruddle
ProFightingFans.com & DFN Sports Staff Writer