The Champion’s Doppleganger: Cat Zingano

    It is a week of the super fight and womens MMA is finally receiving its first certified one. The fight that has been stalled for well over a year is finally happening on pay-per-view.

    Cat Zingano (9-0) takes on UFC Womens Bantamweight Champion Rowdy Ronda Rousey (10-0) this Saturday at UFC 184 and the stakes have never been higher for the seemingly unbeatable champ. Rousey has destroyed every single opponent she has faced only going to the third round once against her uber rival, Miesha Tate.

    Zingano is the only woman who is a true match up for Rousey. The similarities couldnt be more blaring. Rouseys jiu jitsu coaches were Zinganos husbands students. Aside from an undefeated professional record chock full of amazing finishes, Zingano has only one decision victory and the two have deep pain that they seem to harness to achieve these sensational victories.

    I spoke with Cat about her career, the upcoming fight and the motivation that drives her to succeed.

    The curse of suicide has affected both athletes as Rondas father, Ron Rousey, committed suicide when she was 8 years old. Zinganos husband, Mauricio Zingano, a former MMA fighter, also fell to suicide early last year.

    It was quite possibly the hardest year of Zinganos life as that family tragedy was also buttressed by the fact that she was sidelined after her spectacular TKO victory over Miesha Tate, which set up a coaching appearance on The Ultimate Fighter Season 18 against Rousey. Surgery to her knee and rehabilitation followed as she watched Miesha Tate take her coaching spot as well as the next shot against her rightful opponent in Rousey.

    I didnt look past the opportunity. Each fight I look at I dont look past it. Its what I focus on so I was looking forward to the show but it also wasnt in my hands at the time, said Zingano. We were a week away from flying out I was getting my training done and I then I got hurt. It was really difficult, it was a very emotional time because not only I was looking forward to it but my family, my coaching staff and our school it was a lot more that went into it than just losing the opportunity. It was really hard and it was a long recovery that affected a lot of people and Im just happy to be through it.

    Ronda Rousey has been quoted with an admiration for how Zingano is able to take punishments and lose rounds then come back to finish her opponents. She recorded the first TKO finish in UFC womens history this way and her mentality probably spells out why.

    Theres a switch in me, I feel like part of me needs to feel everything that they have and take it and assess it and then its my turn, said Zingano. I guess I want their best and once Ive felt their best its been something that I turn on then I make it mine.

    Zinganos genuineness is worn on her shirt and hopes for a champion that will propel the sport in a positive manner are secure if she indeed bests Rousey for the title.

    I feel like Rondas been a good champion; shes put herself out there in some uncomfortable situations and also some confident situations, said Zingano. I think that she has paved amazing paths for us and Im putting in my hustle too. It would be really nice to fast forward a few years and look back and see all of this evolution that weve been a part of and I cant wait to see what this sport turns into especially after all of the work that weve put into it.

    The world will be watching and as MMAs first womens Super fight comes with a title in tow. The words of UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffers brother, Michael Buffer ring true, somebodys 0 has got to go and for those fans of Zingano this may their only chance to see the formidable Rousey go down in a blaze. Zingano is focused on becoming a champion and her pain and her triumphs are mere motivation for the world in her opinion.

    What kind of champion would she be?

    A very motivated one, a very excited and humbled person. This is an incredible opportunity and no matter what happens Im really happy that I made it this far and I really look forward to setting an example and trying to influence and help people to chase their dreams and their goals regardless of whats going on in their lives.”

    Words from an athlete who understands the power of turning tragedy into triumph.

    Words that mark a true champion.

    Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. RhettĀ hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.