Posted 04/03/2013 by admin in Featured Fighter

Cat Zingano: Her Road to the UFC

by Maureen Riordon, April 3rd, 2013

2013 has already proven to be an exciting turning point for WMMA, and especially those women who compete in the 135 pound division as the doors to the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) have been opened up. The announcement of the Rousey vs Carmouche fight left fans and competitors anxiously awaiting the results of which driven women would be added to the ranks. The most recent roster is up to 11 competitors, Rhonda Rousey, Liz Carmouche, Miesha Tate, Cat Zingano, Sara McMann, Alexis Davis, Sarah Kaufman, Julie Kedzie, Amanda Nunes, Shiela Gaff, and Germain de Randamie according to the UFC website.

Up next is Miesha “Cupcake” Tate (13-3) vs “Alpha” Cat Zingano (7-0) in the TUF 17 Finale on April 13, 2013, and while both women appear to have their eyes glued firmly on their opponent, the outcome of this fight has a special added incentive for the winner who will coach against Rhonda Rousey on the next season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” tryouts of which are being held in Las Vegas on April 15, 2013. Wow. Double perk for WMMA!

While Tate had a lot of media coverage from her multiple Strikeforce fights, Cat Zingano is a force that reemerged quite suddenly and with obvious vigor. Standing undefeated as a professional fighter at 7-0, Zingano first entered the cage in 2007 and turned pro in 2008 after her fourth fight. As a professional, she fought once a year (other than in 2010 when she fought three times), and then after her impressive KO victory over Takayo Hashi on May 14, 2011, the fans and MMA community heard little of this fan favorite.

She reappeared 17 months later with an obvious hunger and drive for success in October when she faced Raquel Pennington on October 6, 2012 on Invicta FC3, after her scheduled Strikeforce fight was canceled two weeks prior. “I just wanted to fight,”says Zingano of her fight versus Pennington. “My manager Ricky Vasquez has a great relationship with Invicta FC and worked to get me a replacement fight ASAP! I was excited to be competing, and for Shannon Knapp and Janet Martin, it was an honor.”

Immediately following her win by submission over Pennington, Zingano started knocking on Dana White’s door. “The moment we knew they were going to open up the female division, I called my manager and told him to get to work, and of course he did.” And while Zingano’s undefeated record speaks impressively for itself, often fighters must do more than just fight to get the attention they seek from the high end promotions. “My management team and I made a lot of noise in the media. Everyone and anyone that was willing to listen, we let the UFC know not only did I want to fight on the biggest stage in the world, but I wanted my first fight to be against Miesha Tate.”  And Zingano’s efforts were proven well placed when not long after, her sought after opportunity was announced.

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Now as the much anticipated fight approaches, some people appear to be doubting Zingano for her lack of competitive experience, but anyone who discredits Zingano for her time off between fights is mistaken. As it turns out, Zingano has no lack of competitive experience at all, as she has been wrestling since middle school and actively competing in grappling tournaments nationwide between fight camps. And her year-and-a-half off between her Hashi and Pennington fights were not wasted either. Zingano spent that time training with Muay Thai legend Sakmongkol in both her home town as well as in Thailand. “I also was competing in the ADCC and was the only female from the US invited to compete in the world championships in England last year,”  Zingano explained. “It’s made me well-rounded. I can finish everywhere, standing or on the ground,” she continued in response to how this has benefitted her MMA career.

While Zingano is clearly focused on her upcoming fight, there is no way to ignore the excitement of the coaching position that is on the line. What does Zingano promise to bring to the table?  Should she bring home the win and earn the position? “A well-rounded game, aggressiveness, and the coaches I would bring with me are world class, starting with my husband, Gracie black-belt, Mauricio Zingano.” A co-ed house will be nothing less than interesting though, which I asked Zingano’s predictions of. “Of course, hot aggressive girls in the same house with hot aggressive guys… I think you’re going to see some XOXO, but I put my money on seeing my girls submitting the guys in the living room.”

As she finishes up the most important fight camp of her career so far, Zingano wanted to thank everyone who helped her get here. Her sponsors Affliction Clothing, Training Mask, Lexani & RBBP, Fight Chix, Dollamur, Jus’ Burritos, Topps, Fund-a-Fighter, Buy My Shorts, MMA Overload, her husband Mauricio Zingano and her team at Zingano/Blackhouse BJJ, her manager Ricky Vasquez with Phenom Management, and her coaches Mark Beecher, Leister Bowling, and Josh Ford.

So is “Alpha” Cat Zingano back to stay? “I plan on making the most of this opportunity and fight in the UFC as often and against whoever they put in front of me,” Zingano assured. Be sure to tune in next weekend, April 13, 2013 to watch WMMA history continue as Cat Zingano faces off against Miesha Tate!