It had been seventeen months since Zingano last competed inside the octagon due to a knee injury and losing her husband, and she had to overcome major adversity in the early going of the fight.
Nunes landed first with an inside leg kick and then secured a takedown in the opening seconds of the fight. Nunes postured up and jumped in Zingano’s guard with a flurry of heavy punches. Zingano survived the onslaught of significant strikes and reversed Nunes. She let the Brazilian up and then threw her to the canvas. The American finished the round strong, but Nunes clearly did more damage.
Zingano closed the distance early in the second frame and delivered knees to the body from the clinch position. She quickly took Nunes down and delivered elbows and punches to the body and head. She maintained top position and control throughout the frame, easily taking the round on the scorecards.
Zingano initiated the clinch and delivered knees before throwing Nunes to the canvas at the beginning of the final stanza. She advanced to the mount position and opened up with punches and elbows. Nunes tried to defend, but the strikes kept landing. The bloodied Nunes continued to take shots until the referee stepped in to stop the fight.
Zingano was relieved to get the win, especially after being hurt in the first round. “I wasn’t done,” she said when asked how bad she was hurt. “I needed to stay. I just needed to get through that first round and I was good.”
As the fight wore on, Zingano said she could feel Nunes fading. “She was breaking,” said the 32-year-old.
Leading up to the fight, UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey state that if Zingano won on Saturday, that she would like to fight her next. UFC president Dana White stated that Zingano was next with a win.
The two were supposed to be opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 18 and fight afterward, but a torn ACL forced Zingano out of the coaching position and out of the title fight.
“I’m ready. I’m ready to do this. Let’s go,” she said when asked about a bout against Rousey. “I’ve got nothing but respect for this sport. It’s my time. I’m ready.”
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