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After UFC 214, Cat Zingano believes Cris Cyborg is a ‘winnable’ matchup: ‘That fight opened up my eyes’

Cat Zingano believes she has the what it takes to accomplish what many women have failed to do in MMA – defeat Cris Cyborg.

After watching UFC 214 cageside, former UFC title challenger Zingano is confident she has the tools and answers to snap Cyborg’s 18-fight win streak. Cyborg, who’s considered by many to be the best pound-for-pound female fighter on the planet, won the women’s UFC featherweight title in the main card of last week’s UFC pay-per-view event in Anaheim, Calif. The Brazilian fighter added another stoppage victory to her impressive record, putting away former Invicta FC bantamweight champ Tonya Evinger in the third round, thus winning the vacant title.

Despite the dominant performance by Cyborg, Zingano believes that Evinger was able to expose the decorated champion even in defeat.

“This weekend I feel like I got to learn a lot watching this fight with Tonya, you know, seeing Tonya control the pace and seeing the fact that Cyborg had a handful with that girl, [which] I actually didn’t expect.” Zingano told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour.

“Me and Tonya used to have to wrestle each other in college so I knew she was strong and tough, but I didn’t necessarily see it transfer over to MMA – as I’ve seen in wrestling. But she obviously pulled it together, and that’s why she’s a champion at 135 [pounds] and I felt she did a pretty good job against Cyborg, and at least she’s tough, you know, at the very least. And watching that fight I was like, ‘Man, I have something for that, I have and answer to that,’ and for everything that didn’t work for Tonya. Watching that fight opened up my eyes to some things and it just made me more excited to get in there with that girl. I think the match up is one of the century and I have what it takes to take Cyborg down, if anyone does.”

After losing her MMA debut back in 2005, Cyborg has been indestructible in her MMA run, stopping most of her opponents in violent fashion, while picking up the Strikeforce and Invicta FC women featherweight belts. Zingano knows facing Cyborg is no easy task, but having watched Evinger put on the most competitive performance against Cyborg in recent years, Zingano is confident she has enough information to get the job done against the newly crowned champ.

“With Cyborg, this is a winnable fight for me,” Zingano explained. “When I’m healthy, none of these girls [can] deal with me, not one, so that’s what I’m looking for. Going into a fight with Cyborg, you need to be as on point as possible. She’s got her advantages – whatever, arguably fair or unfair – and I just know that If I’m at 100 percent, she probably can’t even touch me and those are things that are in consideration when trying to achieve my goal.

“I think she kind of waits for you to be up against the cage, you know, and then she comes in with some head movement and then fires off some big explosive shots. And when she was getting tied up in the clinch, she was very easily put against the cage, and I believe Tonya took her down, and I think that there could be better cover there on someone like her. And there were parts that I felt she was getting really tired, and if it weren’t for the one minute break in between rounds, I felt like she was getting a little exhausted. Those are things that I love to see and read, and I’m very conscious of when those are happening. With some of the biggest things she was throwing, I mean, she’s got aim, she’s got power, but you know, so do I and I have very good timing. So It’s a very aggressive person against a very aggressive person, and the places that she’s strong, I’m also strong, but I’m strong in other places as well that we haven’t seen a whole lot out of her. So I’ll take the shot, it looks really fun and I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of information based on what I saw.”

Apart from seeing holes in Cyborg’s game, Zingano is also confident that the changes she’s been making in her MMA game and health will pay off against any future opponents. The 35-year-old fighter has been out of action for a year since her loss Julianna Pena at UFC 200. However, Zingano has kept busy, as she’s been working on things – which she didn’t want to reveal – that make her hopeful of one day getting a hold of UFC gold.

“I know I have the heart to get through any fight, and these last couple I have fallen on my face because I didn’t deal with this thing,” Zingano said. “There are somethings I’ve been working on with my health and it’s something that I’ve been consistently doing right now and those things are awesome and my body is responding.”

Despite wanting to challenge Cyborg for the belt, Zingano, who’s eyeing a return to the Octagon sometime in October, is not bailing out of her career as a bantamweight, since she holds a win over current 135-pound UFC champion Amanda Nunes.

“The two biggest people on my radar at this point are Amanda Nunes and Cyborg because I beat Amanda, and I feel like she should want to fight me,” Zingano said. “I want to go up in weight, but I also want to stay active in the 135-pound division when the time is right because the 145 [pound division] is not extremely established yet.”

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