Cat Zingano versus Julianna Pena has been confirmed for UFC 200 according to Fox Sports. The match up will mark Zingano’s return to the octagon since her 14-second loss to Ronda Rousey in February 2015.
The fight against Pena might not be the one Zingano was hoping for, as Cat already has a win over current UFC Bantamweight title holder Miesha Tate; however, Zingano is more than likely glad to be stepping back on the mat after a tumultuous couple of years.
According to Yahoo, Cat Zingano’s loss to Ronda Rousey in UFC 184 came just a year after her husband and head coach, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Mauricio Zingano, committed suicide. Rousey, who lost her father to suicide, not only maintained respect for Zingano prior to the fight but offered a hug and consolation after submitting Cat. Ronda reportedly also offered Zingano a future rematch, according to Fox Sports. Rousey’s reverence to Zingano was something that very few other fighters had received.
At the time, Ronda Rousey said, “She’s the most well-rounded fighter that I’ve come across, and she has the best mentality of any opponent that I’ve come across yet,” which undoubtedly had to be a boost to Cat’s ego considering Ronda rarely gives out compliments.
In 2013, Cat Zingano was slated to be the coach opposing Ronda Rousey in The Ultimate Fighter with the promise that Zingano would be able to take a shot at the title at the show’s end. Unfortunately, a knee injury forced Zingano to pull out of the competition and Miesha Tate took her place. MMA fans are well aware of the animosity between Tate and Rousey and the show only added fuel to the flames of their fiery disdain for each other. As a result, Miesha got the opportunity to fight Ronda for the belt only to lose against Rousey for the second time.
While Zingano had returned to the octagon with an impressive win over Amanda Nunes following her knee injury recovery, her next bout was the title shot against Rousey that she had been waiting for and resulted in Cat’s first professional loss. Since then, Cat Zingano has reportedly been traveling and training for another title run. And since then, the titleholder has changed from Rousey to Holly Holm to Miesha Tate.
As previously reported by Inquisitr, Tate will be facing Amanda Nunes at UFC 200 for her first title defense. Some find that match up to be an interesting choice, considering Cat Zingano has beaten both opponents and the fact that both Holly Holm and Ronda Rousey want the opportunity to win back the belt.
While Zingano’s record of nine and one has her ranked ahead of Nunes in the UFC bantamweight division, the year away from competition seems to have muddled Cat’s quest for the belt. Despite not having the opportunity for the championship, Zingano will be facing some tough competition from Pena.
Julianna Pena was on the rise in the UFC rankings with three consecutive wins and a record of nine and two; however, an arrest following a bar fight in December resulted in Pena having to put her career on hold. With Zingano and Pena re-entering competition, it seems that scheduling future fights in the UFC women’s bantamweight division is about to get even hairier for Dana White.
There has already been much discussion about whether or not Ronda Rousey will have the opportunity to fight for the belt this winter, but the UFC might be concerned viewers won’t tune in if Tate is still retaining the belt at that point because it would mean the third match up for the duo. Would a more focused Cat Zingano bring in more ratings and money for the organization?
Some fans would like to see Ronda Rousey face Holly Holm again; Holm is the only opponent to stop Ronda who had, up until that point, appeared to be unstoppable. If neither Holm or Rousey have the title, would this still be a better match up than either fighter against the winner of Tate versus Nunes? Would the winner of Cat Zingano versus Julianna Pena get the title shot instead?
And two words that may disrupt the UFC women’s division completely: Cris Cyborg. Though Cyborg is unable to make it down to bantamweight to compete, Tate has already expressed interest in fighting her. Would Cat Zingano or Julianna Pena also be willing to make the jump?
Tell us what you think.
[Cat Zingano cover image via John Locher/AP Images]