After a bit of a delay due to an injury that forced her out of a March date, “Alpha” Cat Zingano returns to the Bellator cage this Friday.
At Bellator 282, the ever-popular Zingano (12-4) goes up against former Invicta FC champ Pam Sorenson. Ahead of the event, she opened up about the delay in her return, and the pressure fans put on fighters to come back quickly from injury.
“It’s always frustrating to prepare for something and get ready and plan for it, and it not pan out. That’s a lot of hours and a lot of miles into preparation for something that I really care about, let alone emotions and adrenaline and whatever,” Zingano told Cageside Press during Wednesday’s Bellator 282 media day. “For it to not go [ahead] and be postponed, it sucks, but it’s part of the game. This is not a gentle sport, and you need to be as healthy as possible for it.”
Earlier this month, Zingano posted a quote on social media that singled out fans rushing fighters to return from injury. The tongue-in-cheek post wasn’t meant as a response to her own situation, “Alpha” Cat clarified on Wednesday, but was rather an observation about the sport in general.
Y’all need to give fighters time to heal from battle wounds before you start talking shit about inactivity.
Some of y’all threw your back out 10 years ago from getting a sandwich from the fridge and still can’t go for a run.
— Alpha Cat Zingano (@CatZingano) June 2, 2022
“It wasn’t about this one in particular, I think it was just in general for everyone. Conor McGregor broke his leg in that fight, and it’s just always interesting to see people calling each other out and fans trying to put the pressure on and whatever,” Zingano explained. When Zingano first saw video of McGregor throwing kicks in training, her immediate response wasn’t about him getting right back to fighting. “I was like ‘that man just kicked his first pad since surgery.’ And the crazy part is that we do heal really fast, and we do get through crazy things. Injuries, and life stuff, and being sick. The same thing everybody else goes through, but six to ten months, we’re in there doing this thing again.”
Zingano believes that fans in general don’t appreciate what goes into that sort of recovery. “I don’t think people understand that that’s X-Men, superhuman stuff sometimes. It’s a time game and a patience game, and sometimes when I just see people on [social media] acting like they know, and you know they don’t know. It just seemed like a funny thing to say and a funny thing to call out. Just in defense of fighters in general, not anything I was going through.”
The featherweight, a former UFC title challenger, pointed out that “there’s people that will say if you go in and fight through an injury [and win], you’re a hero; if you fight through an injury and you don’t win, you’re full of excuses. It’s kind of just hitting both sides of the coin and talking about the reality of what it is that we’re doing. The fact is, we all want to do it, there’s a lot more that goes into it than a lot of people see. It was just funny and tongue-in-cheek talking about what we go through and how crazy it can be at times.”
Zingano doesn’t appear to be alone in her sentiments. Recently, UFC heavyweight Curtis Blaydes went on record to say that MMA has the worst fans, calling them prone to knee-jerk reactions, and wishy-washy.
When it comes to her own experience, Zingano learned early on that MMA fans were different.
“It’s definitely a different sport. I came up in other sports where people just love to watch you compete. Obviously from being a little kid, your family comes, your friends come, there’s parents and teammates or other teams that just love to see how you do, whether you win or lose. And it doesn’t change that you all go out to dinner afterwards, it doesn’t change that you’re going to do it again next weekend, it doesn’t change anything,” Zingano recalled. “MMA, I do remember hearing early in my career that you’re only as good as your last fight. And that’s a hard reality, and it’s a lot of pressure, but it is what people remember, and it is how it goes.”
“You can be credited or discredited in this sport very, very fast no matter what you’ve done in the past,” Zingano continued. “You always have to be learning, you always have to be growing, you have to be that healthy scared and [have that] healthy diligence when you’re in these training camps just to stay on top of everything because yeah, it’s a fast-paced sport and the evolution of it is moving every quickly, so it can be tough— and people are definitely chomping at the bit to call you out or correct you on whatever.”
While Zingano steps into the cage for her third fight under the Bellator banner this Friday, it comes against Sorenson, not against Cris Cyborg — a fight many have been calling for for a while. But Cat confirmed Wednesday that “I wasn’t offered Cyborg. I did tell [Bellator] in the beginning there were things that I would want to do, that both of us would do to make sure it’s a fair fight, and make sure it’s a safe fight. And with those guidelines and everything, it never came out.”
That said, the fight with Sorenson is looked at as a number one contender’s fight. “I’ve called it that myself,” admitted Zingano. “That’s what I’m assuming. Pam is coming up and she’s done some good things with Bellator so far, I’m coming up doing some good things with Bellator so far. I think it would be fair to say that that could be the result of this fight, for sure.”
As for any conditions for fighting Cyborg, “I just think independent [drug] testing for both of us, with an independent resource. Just making sure there’s no biases, there’s no people that we know, and just making sure that everything is safe and fair.”
Cat Zingano meets Pam Sorenson at Bellator 282 this Friday, June 24, 2022 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT.