MENU
#UFC Fight Night 55 #Fabricio Werdum #Marcin Tybura #UFC 217 #UFC Fight Night 120 #GSP



LAS VEGAS – Some people go on vacation and visit historic sights or play a few rounds of golf. For her vacation, though, Cat Zingano traveled halfway around the world to learn a bit of Muay Thai boxing in the country where it originated and, despite zero experience, wound up taking a pro fight.

On Saturday, she'll face Miesha Tate on the main card of "The Ultimate Fighter Finale," with an opportunity to coach opposite UFC women's champion Ronda Rousey in the next season of TUF going to the winner.

The Mandalay Bay Events Center, where Zingano will meet Tate in the most important bout of her fighting career, is thousands of miles away and light years removed from the tiny, filthy gym in Thailand where Zingano unexpectedly took a professional Muay Thai fight last year.

Zingano, her husband, Maurice, and their son, Brayden, went to Thailand for vacation last summer. An All-American wrestler at Cumberland College and MacMurray College, Cat Zingano was going to teach a seminar on takedowns in jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts.

She and her husband, a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, were given coupons for Muay Thai classes, which she eagerly snapped up.

"It was such a great opportunity, to learn Muay Thai in Thailand," she said. "I thought it would be so neat to see the whole ambiance of it. My husband, he was more into the vacation part of it. He was there to relax and have fun. But I had to take advantage of being in Muay Thai and learning about it there."

It wasn't like she went down to the local 24 Hour Fitness and took a class, though. She immersed herself into the training so deeply that her coach urged her to take a pro fight before she returned home. The surroundings should have told her this would not be the kind of fight she was used to taking, but Zingano is nothing if not adventurous.

She took the bout and now has a story for years to come.

[Also: 'Appalled' UFC suspends Matt Mitrione over anti-transsexual comments]

Her coach was smoking and drinking a beer as he wrapped her hands and prepared her for the fight. The dressing room was filled with bloodstains on the wall and looked like it had never been cleaned. The odor was nauseating.

"I'll bet if someone got murdered in there, you'd never find out who did it," she said, chuckling. "It was pretty gnarly. I didn't take off my sandals for the warm-up because of the floor. There was cigarettes all over and spit and blood and who knows what else. It smelled awful."

It would have been one thing for a professional Muay Thai fighter to be in those surroundings, preparing to fight. Zingano, though, was on vacation with her family and had as much experience fighting Muay Thai as the barista at the local Starbucks.

The ring and the ropes were similarly filthy. She wound up with a Staph infection in her armpit after putting her arm over the rope during the fight.

"At some point, I went for an elbow on her and the rope ended up under my arm pit," Zingano said. "We continued to fight, but it turns out a couple of days later, I wound up with this gnarly Staph infection in my armpit and I had to go to all these different pharmacies to try to figure out how to get rid of it.

"It took two weeks to get rid of it. I can't imagine how much DNA was on that rope. They didn't wipe it down between fights and I'm sure they didn't at the end of the night. It was pretty disgusting."

Given that she got through that experience – with a knockout win via a knee to the head – she's unlikely to be fazed by the lofty stakes in her UFC debut. In Tate, she's meeting the UFC's second-most famous fighter with the TUF coaching gig and a title shot against Rousey on the line.

[Also: Irish fighter hopes $60K UFC payday starts path away from welfare]

UFC president Dana White frequently speaks of the jitters fighters face before their UFC debuts, but if Zingano didn't get rattled fighting Muay Thai in Thailand with no experience, it's a pretty good bet that she'll be relaxed as she climbs into the Octagon to fight Tate.

"My background is in jiu-jitsu and wrestling, so to go to a situation [in Thailand] where I wasn't comfortable and I hadn't had years of training, it helped me to conquer my fears," she said. "I was in a situation where I had to stand up the entire fight, and that's not what I had done at that point. I had to throw heavy leather. I needed to learn to improvise, because I knew if I got tired, I couldn't go to the ground, which had been my comfort zone.

"I forced myself to do that and, as a result, I increased my faith in my capabilities as a fighter," she said. "Now I know, if someone takes all these things I'm comfortable with [as a fighter] and that I like about my style away from me, I know I can still succeed. I proved that to myself under the most difficult circumstances imaginable."

Zingano has great respect for Tate and what she's accomplished as a fighter, but the one thing she is certain of is that she won't be awed by Tate's skills.

Though it's her UFC debut, nothing will be shocking for Zingano after what she went through in Thailand.

"I'm going to go out and be myself and be aggressive and have fun and do what I do," she said. "If I had any doubts, I know from [Thailand] that I have the heart. I'm really looking forward to the experience."

Related UFC video on Yahoo! Sports:

Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Nets' Gerald Wallace says he's lost his confidence
Odds favor Tiger Woods at Masters
Pitino family fights through strife to share championship moment
Fans show up for Marlins home opener despite outrage

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Galleries

Cat Zingano Fights

  • a year ago
  • 750 views

Comments

Show Comments

Related News

CES MMA 46 video and results: Big-show vet John Howard shows off the ground and pound

  • 22 days ago
  • 28 views

John Howard is back – and it was a triumphant return in Friday’s CES MMA 46 headliner. Filed under: AXS TV Fights, News, Videos read news >>

Colby Covington Issues 'Formal Apology' For His Comments in Brazil | MMAWeekly.com

  • 20 days ago
  • 24 views

Colby Covington probably won't be going on vacation in Brazil any time soon. On Saturday night following a unanimous decision victory over Demian Maia in Sao Paolo, Covington called the entire countr read news >>

Joanna Jedrzejczyk: 'Can you imagine this elbow on Rose's face? I can!' (Video) | MMAWeekly.com

  • 18 days ago
  • 18 views

UFC strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk shows off some of the impressive, powerful striking skills that she plans to use on Rose Namajunas. read news >>

With just one fight a year from 2011-2016, ex-UFC title challenger Cat Zingano says she has a fight booked

  • 2 days ago
  • 20 views

If Cat Zingano could put a few fights together, there may be no telling how far she could climb again. Filed under: Blue Corner, Featured, Featured Videos, News, UFC read news >>

Cat Zingano Returns Against Ketlen Vieira at UFC 222 in Las Vegas | MMAWeekly.com

  • 21 hours ago
  • 11 views

Cat Zingano has finally booked her return fight in the UFC. The former title contender has been out of action since UFC 200 but Zingano has now booked her next fight against undefeated Brazilian Ketl read news >>

Ryan Benoit Shows Off Broken Hand Following Spectacular Head Kick KO Win (PHOTO) | MMAWeekly.com

  • 11 hours ago
  • 10 views

Ryan Benoit landed a spectacular third round head kick knockout to finish Ashkan Mokhtarian in the featured prelim at UFC Fight Night in Sydney, Australia after suffering a broken hand earlier in the read news >>