Cat Zingano will be the next challenger for Ronda Rousey's title, as long as she can see off Amanda Nunes at UFC 178 this weekend.
Zingano was announced as the number one contender when she beat Meisha 'Cupcake' Tate back in April 2013.
However, a long term injury and the devastating loss of her husband have seen 'Zingano on the sidelines for 17 months, but that doesn't change her position according to White.
Return of 'The Alpha Cat'
Zingano's return to the cage this weekend will be a huge personal triumph, win or lose, but winning will be made all the sweeter for 'The Alpha Cat' if she beats Nunes.
“Cat’s No. 1 (contender if she defeats Nunes),” UFC President, Dana White told MMAjunkie at Thursday’s UFC 178 media day. “Cat’s No. 1. Yup.”
And Rousey isn't shying away from Zingano either, stating that she feels like she owes her the fight.
With her win over Tate, Zingano sealed not only a title fight but a spot as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter across from Rousey as well, but that fell through after the injury as well.
“I talked to her personally and I promised her, ‘One day we are going to have the title fight you deserve. I’m going to beat you, but we’re going to have it,'” Rousey said. “She’s had a very, very rough year, and I think that’s exactly what she would need. And I’m happy to provide that experience for her.”
The long road to find a challenger
After Rousey's 16 second KO of Alexis Davis, it has left the UFC searching for a worthy challenger to Rousey and while there were a long list of names - Zingano's has always had the biggest claim.
That claim has only been bolstered by the sidelining of Holly Holm, the loss that Rin Nakai suffered, Tate already having two losses and the lack of a credible win for Bethe Correia.
That leaves Zingano as the top contender remaining, and the only fighter in the top five challengers Rousey is yet to defeat.
Nunes is ranked #8 by the UFC and won't be the easiest of returns of Zingano but before the injury, Zingano was tipped as perhaps the fighter with the best chance to beat Rousey.
Like Dominick Cruz, who is also returning this weekend, whether we'll see that same fighter is not clear but if we do, then we know what awaits her for victory.
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