Cat Zingano might be one of the few fighters on the planet who has asked to face UFC women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg in the past.
With an undefeated run lasting more than a decade with a trail of broken bodies left in her wake, Cyborg has been the most dominant women’s fighter in all of mixed martial arts but Zingano was up for the challenge when the UFC was struggling to find her opposition.
Unfortunately the fight never came together but when Cyborg was matched up with women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes at UFC 232, Zingano was quick to volunteer to serve as the alternate in case somebody wasn’t able to go on Dec. 29.
The UFC not only accepted her offer but ultimately gave her an opponent as well as she now faces former Invicta FC champion Megan Anderson on Saturday night.
“I’m a fighter, I’m a warrior. I’m always going to want to fight and I want to fight the people that are the best,” Zingano explained when speaking to MMAWeekly. “I volunteered to be the alternate for Amanda and Cris. I think I was the only one raising my hand for that one. They said sure go ahead and get ready but instead of having me get ready for nothing, they gave me an opponent for the same night as well.
“So now it all makes sense to have everybody ready.”
Zingano might not appear to be the likeliest candidate to compete at 145 pounds considering she actually started her career fighting in the women’s flyweight division. She’s also fought for the UFC women’s bantamweight title as well and remains a top 10 ranked fighter in that division.
According to Zingano, a chance to compete at featherweight was actually a welcome change because she no longer had to focus as much on cutting weight during training camp and she’s been a much happier fighter for it.
“I’m a very big bantamweight. I always have been,” Zingano explained. “I used to be No. 1 at 125 pounds but I was too big for that weight class so I went up to bantamweight and my goal was to be No. 1 at 135 and I’ve touched that but I haven’t accomplished what I wanted but I do plan to so right now it’s fight everyone, fight everything and see what I can do. It’s a battle and it’s fun and it’s scary and it’s challenging, it’s all of the things that make me tick.
“I’m pumped to be doing something different. I can’t express how awesome it is to do camp when you’re nourished and you can eat. It’s a completely different feeling when you go into these fights healthy. I get to stop my cut at 145, which is still a significant cut for me, but it’s better than 135. So I’m grateful for that.”
Zingano isn’t alone when it comes to fighters in the UFC competing at a more natural weight class recently rather than torturing themselves to competing in a smaller division.
Both middleweight champion Robert Whittaker and his next opponent Kelvin Gastelum are former welterweights. Top five ranked lightweight contender Dustin Poirier has looked better than ever after he stopped fighting at 145 pounds.
Zingano believes she can join that list of healthy athletes competing at a higher level without cutting so much weight but that also doesn’t mean she’s finished at 135 pounds.
“Right now I’m living large. I’m eating extremely healthy. I’m strong like a monster. I’m lifting to an ability that makes me feel like The Hulk and I’m already extremely strong. I’m going into practice nourished,” Zingano described. “I still have energy on the weekends. That’s nice and not being a scary b—ch all the time, that’s nice, too.
“I do want to stay fluid and be able to bounce between 135 and 145 but I will say this is a pretty awesome f—king treat.”
If all goes well on Saturday night in her fight against Anderson at UFC 232, Zingano believes she could finally be on the cusp of another title opportunity inside the Octagon.
The UFC has struggled to find worthy contenders in the women’s featherweight division but Zingano is more than ready for that challenge.
She’s not only been asking to fight Cyborg but she already holds a TKO win over Nunes so it only seems fitting that Zingano would get the next title shot assuming she’s victorious over Anderson.
“Absolutely I would love that,” Zingano said when asked if she wanted the winner of Cyborg vs. Nunes. “The vision I had was be the champion at 125 and then be the champion at 135 and then be the champion at 145. That’s always going to be my goal. When I look up at the stars at night, that makes me excited to do. If it doesn’t happen in that order, it doesn’t happen in that order. This is what has manifested now.
“Should that be the order it goes in, hell yeah I’m ready to take it. I’m here to fight the best and be the best and to challenge myself and figure out this hierarchy.”