It's been over a year since Cat Zingano last stepped into the cage. In the meantime, she's been sidelined by an ACL tear and later a torn meniscus for over a year. Compounded with intense personal tragedy following the death of her husband, Mauricio Zingano, Cat's return to action feels like a much more important event than your normal story about a fighter coming off a long injury layoff. She was the no. 1 contender to the bantamweight crown when she went down to injury, and reports suggest she may have been part of the UFC's 176 plans with Ronda Rousey before the event was scrapped altogether. That potential title shot will have to wait again, but not on Zingano's account, as she'll be stepping into the cage at UFC 178 against Amanda Nunes. Yahoo Sports has the report.
Beyond her long injury layoff, Zingano enters this fight on an 8 fight win-streak, stretching back to 2008 (she's undefeated). Her most recent victory, a TKO win over Miesha Tate, was her UFC debut. However, Zingano also has big wins over current Invicta 125 lb champ Barb Honchak and current Deep Jewels middleweight champion (also 125) Takayo Hashi. She's also only competed once a year for each of the last three years, so hopefully 2014 herlads the beginning of a more active schedule.
For Nunes, Zingano represents a chance to really cement herself as one of the divisional elite. She already has big wins over Ediane Gomes, Julia Budd, Vanessa Porto, and Germaine de Randamie, but none of those fighters represent the level of relevance that Zingano holds in the current women's bantamweight division. Whether it's still quite as relevant as it was a year ago or not, Zingano is ranked as the no. 1 contender to Ronda's title and the winner of this bout may find themselves next in line for a shot at the belt. Nunes has dropped recent fights to Sarah D'Alelio and Alexis Davis, but is undefeated at 2-0 in the UFC with TKO victories over Sheila Gaff, and most recently Germaine de Randamie.
UFC 178 takes place on September 27 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Here's a look at how the card stands right now.