TUF 17 Finale: Is a Cat Zingano Win Good for the UFC?

Matthew RyderFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2013

Courtesy: Low Kick MMA
Courtesy: Low Kick MMA

The second female fight in the history of the UFC is set to take place in a little over a week, as Cat Zingano is prepared to take on Miesha Tate at the TUF 17 finale.

The two ladies are among the best bantamweights in the world, and stand to gain a place beside Ronda Rousey coaching the next installment of the series.

Then a place across from her in the cage around December.

There’s definitely plenty on the line as the two fight to shape the course of the UFC women’s division for the rest of 2013. And what happens if Cat Zingano wins?

Well, a collective groan from the head office of the UFC will be emitted. Then a regret that they made Rousey’s biggest rival fight for a spot on TUF instead of just outright giving it to her. Then a long silence before filming begins and it’s time for the annual “BEST TUF EVER!” talk from Dana White.

But you know what? After all that, there’s going to be a realization that Zingano winning was actually great for the promotion. If it happens, rest assured that by December’s tilt with Rousey, Zingano will be the third star the promotion has at women’s bantamweight.

The undefeated jiu-jitsu ace is a great foil for Rousey: she’s also a talented grappler, she’s also an unbeaten grappler of comparable experience, she’s also pretty, and she’s also got a good head on her shoulders. It’s safe to say she’s good enough to earn the chance to meet Rousey, and she’s definitely smart enough to sell the fight when she gets the chance.

In many ways, in fact, Zingano is what Tate wants to be. She’s well-spoken and comes across with an air of nobility, as Tate is and often does, but Zingano does it without the whiny divergences and occasional missteps of her April opponent.

Put that up against Rousey, and you’ve got a credible foil who won’t be outdueled intellectually and will be a fresh face for the champion to tangle with.

And on top of it, the Tate fight is still there in this hypothetical world where she loses to Zingano, who then loses to Rousey.

Imagine the heat if they have to wait until mid-2014 for the most anticipated rematch in the history of female MMA? The buyrates would be as high as anything the ladies’ wing of the sport could produce.

The Rousey-Tate feud was founded on two ideas: MMA fans like to watch beautiful, talented women talk trash, and they like to watch those two women back it up in the cage. While Zingano doesn’t have a track record of talking trash, and doesn’t have the history with Rousey that Tate does, it won’t take long to heat things up if the two are needling each other for weeks prior to their fight.

So yes, on April 13, if Cat Zingano comes out on top, it’ll be good for the UFC. They just won’t know it until December.