It's not like most MMA fans need that reminder, but Zignano has lost two straight fights. She last competed in July 2016 against Julianna Pena at UFC 200, dropping a unanimous decision. While she's been out of formal action inside the UFC Octagon, Zingano hasn't stood still. Training at Chula Vista's famed Alliance MMA Training Center, Zingano is ready to jump back into action, and she's aiming for the sport's biggest names.
Give her Cris Cyborg or give her bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes--she's good either way.
"I know [a matchup vs. Cyborg] is being talked about, so we'll see what happens," Zingano told FloCombat. "And there are some things down at '35 still, so we'll see. There are a lot of things I'm holding and considering, but I do think the UFC has a plan for my return."
At 17-1 with one no-contest, Cyborg is widely considered one of the greatest female fighters to ever walk the earth. She's 2-0 since entering the UFC in May 2016, but certain circumstances have halted her momentum time and again. She has a history of struggling to make weight and running into trouble with performance-enhancing drugs, and her preferred weight class--featherweight--is rather thin in the UFC.
The current 145-pound UFC champion, Germaine de Randamie, flatly refuses to fight Cyborg, and making any lower weight is a serious problem. Zingano, however, says she's down for the scrap. Those issues do not faze her. They only motivate her.
"I'm mean as hell and I don't fight not to lose," Zingano said. "I fight to finish fights. I'm aggressive, and I'm big and I'm strong. The resilience and the heart that I have is not something she's ever had to deal with before.
"Not that the girls she's fought are any less of a fighter, but I'm a different breed. I'm a different type of fighter. I fight from my heart. The wins take care of themselves when I go out there and I just try to hurt people.
"It's no disrespect to them--actually, I'll take that back. Sometimes it's disrespect to them. But they've earned it," she added. "There's never been a person I've been mean to in my life that didn't earn that shit. It's just a whole different dynamic. Our kickboxing is similar. I also know she's a naturally bigger girl. That weight cut is going to be rough, whether it's at 140 or 145. She's not that size in life in general. She's got some big punches, some big, wide-open things I see. I know my ground is superior. I know my jiu-jitsu is superior. So realistically, I see myself being able to control the cage and put her on her back."
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Should that fight not materialize, however, Zingano also sees a target in the current 135-pound queen Nunes. Zingano and Nunes previously tangled at UFC 178 in September 2014, where Zingano took home a thrilling third-round TKO victory after being battered early in the fight.
The loss is still Nunes' only blemish inside the Octagon, and Zingano believes Nunes should want to run it back.
"It's all being discussed," Zingano said. "I was obviously in Vegas [last] week, and it was...it was weird. I saw Amanda. Amanda actually approached me. It's kind of funny because we've battled, she's blocked me on all social media because she has what I want. And I see her, it's the same thing with Miesha. I feel like, 'You should want to fight me. I'm your only loss.'
"For me, when I'm champion, I'm calling out everyone ever. 'You scored on me once when we were in high school. Here are some gloves. Let's go.' I just get weirded out by the fact that they don't want to redeem that. But I know I broke both of them too. It was a physical thing, but I think the mental is what put them away."
The two exchanged words in-person, and the encounter only made Zingano feel more confident that a rematch was bound to happen in the future.
"Amanda approached me this weekend, and she was like, 'Why do you hate me?' And I said, 'Because I have to. Because I want to,'" Zingano said. "Making friends in this sport isn't getting anyone anywhere. I can't care about anyone in this sport until the fight's over, until the sport's over essentially. Because at some point I'll want to hurt them, and I can't look at them in a way where there's adoration or love or whatever.
"But she did say she wants to fight me again...I know I'm coming off two losses, but I thrashed her to death, you know? She has been winning, and maybe she's improved, but there's no way I haven't improved as well."
Due to the circumstances surrounding their first encounter, Zingano believes the scale tips even more heavily in her favor in a rematch.
"I'm coming into that [first] fight [against Nunes] off an 18-month layoff," Zingano said. "I have a completely new, reconstructed knee. My coach and husband all in one person died--and not died of something natural. It was some gnarly, dark shit. And I had to figure out whether this was for me or not anymore. And I did. I found it. I was like, 'This is where I belong. This is part of my legacy. It's part of my life goals.'
"To say that I haven't improved from there would be ridiculous. I think when it does happen it'll be a good fight because we both have that little grudge going on, but at the end of the day, I know I'm champion great. I know it's coming. They always keep me in the top ranks because that's the kind of work that I do. Whatever comes next, I'm sure it'll only be one fight if not already at the top fight."
As it stands, Zingano is ready for anything, and her confidence has perhaps never been higher. She has a win over Nunes. She believes she's the perfect storm to topple Cyborg. Her mind is clear, her life is straightened out, and she's maintained the same intensity that catapulted her into title contention in the first place. Add it all up, and Zingano sees one thing in her future: gold.
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"I am sitting here guaranteeing now I'm going to be the champion," Zingano said. "I didn't come this far to only come this far. I was diligent in working on all the things I needed to do to improve my situation across the board and come back, and I'm going to come back and take it over. I had my goals at 125. Now I have my goals at 135 and I have my goals at 145."
And while her goals at 145 may include Cyborg, De Randamie still holds the belt. To reach the top of that division, Zingano would have to beat De Randamie--not Cyborg--and it's here Zingano offers some props and praise.
While the MMA community has largely turned on the Dutch striker, Zingano knows what she has accomplished, and she remains impressed an complimentary of her body of work. While Zingano doesn't personally agree with De Randamie's refusal to fight Cyborg, she sees where it's coming from, and she doesn't necessarily blame her either.
"I do have to give Germaine props," Zingano said. "That girl has been through some wars. If you're any kind of kickboxing or MMA fan and you look her up and her history, she's no joke. I remember when I was coming up as an amateur looking at that girl like, 'Holy shit. That's what I have to deal with? She's a monster.' And whatever she does moving forward, I support her. I would love to see that fight with them. I would love to see that fight with me, too.
"I know she's had a lot of battles, and I'm not positive what she wants to do moving forward. I think a lot of people are hesitant fighting Cyborg because of the residual effects of steroids and having almost gone through puberty [again] from using those type of enhancements.
"For me, I know I'm big. I know I'm strong," she added. "I know I have some great days against dudes who are bigger than her. I'm not threatened by it. I'm excited to figure it out...Some people just don't want that. To go out there and risk it all and walk away potentially injured, it's not very attractive to people, especially when you're trying to have a life outside, and I think she is."