Cat Zingano was scheduled to face UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey at UFC 168 after coaching opposite the titleholder on The Ultimate Fighter 18. A knee injury erased her title shot and her coaching stint, but she penciled her name back into the top contender slot after finishing Amanda Nunes in her return fight at UFC 175 on Saturday. The win earned her the title shot she missed out on.
Asked if a match-up between Zingano and Rousey was official during the event’s post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White said, “Yes.”
“She was screaming at me after the fight. She ran over and started screaming, ‘Do you see me? Do you see me?’ Yes, I see you,” added White. “This was the shut up about Gina Carano fight. I think that’s the statement Cat wanted to make tonight, and she made it loud and clear.”
The UFC had been aggressively pursuing signing former Strikeforce champion turned actor Gina Carano for a fight against Rousey. Those negotiations recently fell through.
White felt Zingano needed a fight to be reintroduced to the fan base after being away from the sport for seventeen months.
“She’s been out a while. She had some injuries. She was dealing with some personal problems. She is back. I think the fans needed to see her, and she needed to remind everybody why she was in line for a title shot. She did it tonight,” said the UFC president.
Rousey plans to fight on Jan. 3 on the UFC 182: Jones vs. Cormier fight card, and Zingano is fine with that date. She believes she brings something different to the table than all of Rousey’s past opponents.
“I just think the caliber of athlete, the intensity that I bring,” said Zingano when asked what separates her from the rest. “I feel like I’m, I don’t know, I just bring something different to everything. I’m just game.”
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