Earlier this week, we received the big news that #1 contender Cat Zingano was out of her TUF coaching gig opposite Ronda Rousey, and out of her upcoming title shot with Rousey. Taking her place is Miesha Tate, the woman Zingano defeated to earn the shot. Even before this announcement, both Zingano and Tate were already in the news thanks to Zingano's accusation that Tate's boyfriend Bryan Caraway elbowed her in the head at the weigh-ins for their April fight.
After Zingano came forward with her accusation, there were some questions on why she waited so long to go public. Now with the revelation that Tate has taken Zingano's spot, and that the switch from Zingano to Tate happened some time earlier this month but was kept under wraps by the UFC, those questions are even more relevant. Was Zingano's decision to publicly discuss the alledged Caraway incident related to her removal from TUF? Bloody Elbow reached out to the Zingano camp to help clarify the timeline; here's how things look:
Friday, April 12 - According to Zingano, at the TUF live finale weigh-ins, Bryan Caraway elbows her in the back of the head.
Saturday, April 13 - Zingano defeats Tate, earning a TUF coaching spot and UFC Women's Bantamweight title shot in the process.
Thursday, May 16 - Zingano suffers a knee injury while training. The injury will eventually take her out of TUF and the Rousey fight, though at the time, they did not know the extent of the injury or if it would impact the TUF job. At this time, they did inform Dana White that Zingano had been injured.
Friday, May 17 - The Zingano camp goes public with the Caraway accusation, telling Bloody Elbow about the incident.
Monday, May 20 - Caraway responds to the allegations, denying that anything happened.
Week of May 20 - During this week, Zingano saw Dana in Las Vegas, and at that point, she was officially pulled from TUF and the fight, though nothing was made public at the time.
Tuesday, May 29 - The opening scenes of the new season of TUF are filmed. This is the first time that Rousey learns about the switch. The news is made public at this time.
According to the Zingano camp, there is no connection between the injury on the 16th and the decision to discuss the Caraway incident the next day, as they did not know the extent of the injury or that Zingano would be out of TUF on the 17th.
Whether Zingano intended it or not, the end result of all of this puts Zingano in a good place for her eventual return. If Rousey is still champ, then Zingano is an easy choice for #1 contender. If Tate is champ, a Tate vs. Zingano rematch now has a strong grudge match appeal that will again make Zingano the clear #1 choice for a challenger. Though she is stuck on the sidelines for some time, she has effectively positioned herself to jump right back into the top of the card upon her return.
No timetable has yet been set for that return.