The UFC’s polarizing figure, Cris “Cyborg” Justino officially had her coming out party last month at UFC 214 when she scored a TKO win over Tonya Evinger, securing the UFC women’s featherweight championship in the process. Cyborg proved why she is the most feared women in mixed martial arts and continues to prove that there is no competition for her anywhere and there hasn’t been for more than a decade. Justino was initially expected to face the Invicta featherweight champion, Megan Anderson at UFC 214, but Anderson was forced out due to personal reasons. While Holly Holm was named as a Cyborg’s next potential opponent by Dana White at the UFC 214 post fight presser, there is one name that was previously discussed. Before Anderson was booked against Justino, it was Cat Zingano who was offered Justino last year and she gladly accepted. Unfortunately, timing never worked out in two separate occasions, but now Cat Zingano believes she is ready to dethrone the queen.
Zingano, currently on the sidelines due to medical reasons told Ariel Helwani on last week’s edition of the MMA Hour that she watched Cyborg’s performance carefully and is confident she could exploit the holes in Justino’s game. The problem with Zingano’s call out is that she was last seen a year ago at UFC 200, which was where she was defeated by Julianna Pena in a title eliminator fight. Since then, Zingano promised a return to action by the start of the summer, but was unable to keep her word due to a medical issue that she has yet to reveal. Zingano told Helwani that she is expecting to return in the fall while Cyborg has a clause in her contract that states her contract expires this October regardless of the two fights remaining on her deal. The issues between the UFC and Cyborg have been well documented, but the two parties stand to achieve more success together than apart, but free agency is never easy to predict especially when Tito Ortiz is part of her management team.
Zingano holds two defeats on her record, one to Rousey and the other to Pena, so it’s not a stretch to believe she stands a chance to engage in a competitive bout against Cyborg. However, the difference in size could make the difference as well as the fact that Zingano has proven to be a slow starter who usually improves as the fight goes on. There is no given that the fight gets past round 1 when dealing with Cyborg. The layoff could also be damning in Zingano’s attempts to find her groove and the fact that Zingano hasn’t won a fight since 2014 against the current UFC women’s bantamweight champion, Amanda Nunes, could hurt her chances in being offered a shot over Holm or Megan Anderson.
Because Zingano has a win over Nunes, one could argue that she is better suited at 135 lbs where she would be able to get a rematch against a woman she finished via TKO three years back after a win or two. Zingano’s lack of transparency regarding what’s kept her on the sidelines doesn’t help her case, but then again Megan Anderson pulled out of her fight against Cyborg also citing private personal reasons. Both women have the right to withhold information from the public, but until fans see either of the two standing across the Brazilian native inside of a cage, the words of Zingano and Anderson will do more harm than good from the fans’ perspective. Strangely enough, Cyborg is slowly beginning to transform into a sympathetic figure due to the fact finding her an opponent has been more difficult than the adversity she’s endured during competition.
Zingano is now 35-years-old, but claims to have been improving during her time off, which sounds encouraging, but until she scores a win over somebody like Anderson if Holm is Justino’s first title defense, there is not much to get excited about. Cyborg’s short amount of time in the UFC can be described as underwhelming due to the nature of her opposition and Zingano will only add to that description. At least on paper. Holly Holm wouldn’t be that big of a step up either considering her unimpressive record since defeating Ronda Rousey. Cyborg expressed interest in heading to the WWE to face Becky Lynch for some time now, which could mean she literally has to cross over to a pre determined pro wrestling world in order to find competition and that’s a shame. Hopefully Megan Anderson can recover sooner than later and gives the MMA world the fight they deserve.