LAS VEGAS - You can be forgiven if you had a sense of deja vu watching Cat Zingano on Saturday night.
In her last fight, 17 months ago, Zingano overcame a horrid start and scored a vicious third-round finish Miesha Tate in her UFC debut.
After nearly a year and a half of trials and tribulations, Zingano returned at UFC 178 and repeated her feat. Zingano shook off a bad first round and rallied to finish Amanda Nunes at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The fight ended via TKO at 1:21 of the third round.
Nunes (9-4) got off to a fast start, getting Zingano to the mat early and working from the top for most of the round. She landed several big bombs and seemed a couple solid shots from finish the fight. But Zingano persevered and got to her feet before the round was out.
"I wasn't done," Zingano said. "I just needed to get through that first round and I was good."
Zingano took over the fight in round two. She took Nunes to the mat with a throw similar to a pro wrestling DDT, and went for an old-school ankle lock at one point.
"She was breaking," Zingano said.
Zingano turned up the heat in round three, again throwing Nunes to the mat. This time, she rained down brutal ground and pound to the bloodied Nunes until referee Jason Herzog waved off the bout. It was her eighth career stoppage win.
With the victory, Zingano is expected to be the next challenger to Ronda Rousey's bantamweight title. Zingano was slated to get a title shot after the Tate loss, but a knee injury, followed by the death of her estranged husband, kept her out of action until last night.
"Let's go, I'm ready," Zingano said. "I have all the respect in the world for Ronda Rousey but this is my time."