If Cris Cyborg fights at UFC 214 in July, it won’t be against Cat Zingano.
The UFC recently tried to book the featherweight fight after 145-pound champion Germaine de Randamie was unavailable to defend her title against Justino, but in the end, Zingano won’t be ready to fight on July 29 in Anaheim.
Though, make no mistake about it, Zingano wants Justino next.
“Both the UFC and (her manager) Ed (Soares) want me to handle some health and personal things before I go into a fight like this,” Zingano told MMAFighting.com on Thursday evening. “As always, I think I can beat her right now, but if there is a more optimal level I can perform at, we all want me to reach that level. I think we all know I am the only one that can potentially take this chick any day, any time, when I'm 100 percent healthy and happy.
“But don't worry, it's coming, and I want it. The cool part is the UFC is supporting me in making the best decision and getting me to my highest level of health through the new treatment facility and staff there. I feel grateful for them looking out. I feel like they may be trying to make some changes, and I'm excited to be a part of the growth and evolution of fighter consideration.”
Zingano (9-2), 34, hasn’t fought since UFC 200 last July. Her last win was at UFC 178 in September 2014 against Amanda Nunes, who is now the UFC women’s bantamweight champion.
Zingano declined to shed light on her current health issues. She’s confident she’ll return to action soon, but ruled out a return at UFC 214.
“If she had to do steroids to get to this level, then she’s not as good as me,” Zingano said. “I'm going to put her through hell, she's never had to work as hard as me. I'm not scared of her. She had to use substances to get through the things I've gotten through naturally. I've got respect for her, but when people say it can't be done, all I say is watch me do it and stay off my (band)wagon once I do.
“I like Cris and I respect her, but if it’s either her or me out there, I'll be damned if the food is not going on my table.”
Justino was provisionally suspended by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in December, though after a two-month investigation, she was granted a retroactive therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for Spironolactone, a physician-prescribed diuretic. She did not receive any sanctions from USADA or the UFC.
She tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol in 2011, following her win over Hiroko Yamanaka in Strikeforce, and was subsequently suspended for one year by the California State Athletic Commission.
And while the UFC has had trouble finding an opponent for Justino, Zingano reiterated that she’s more than game to fight the most dominant female in MMA history, she just needs a little more time.
“I will do everything I'm saying I'm going to do,” Zingano said. “This isn't a fight you go into with the medical bullshit I have, and the UFC knows I'm capable and it's probable. It's a different life problem with Cyborg, but one I have the solution to.
“I had to be smart about this fight, which means taking care of a few things first, but I'm in.”
At last check, the UFC was hopeful to book Justino against someone else on the July 29 card, but they have yet to finalize those plans yet. Justino has two fights left on her UFC contract, but it also expires in October.