The 18th season of the UFC's reality series, "The Ultimate Fighter," debuted on Fox Sports 1 with one very interested, though disappointed, viewer.
Women's bantamweight contender Cat Zingano should have been watching herself. But because she injured a knee during training on May 16, she was forced to pull out of the show, which began filming on May 28, and was replaced by Miesha Tate.
Zingano had stopped Tate in the third round of their April 13 fight in Las Vegas to earn the coaching slot, and the title shot that goes with it, opposite UFC champion Ronda Rousey. But then the injury, which required surgery, forced her to step aside.
That was all a part of Episode 1 on Wednesday, and Zingano watched with a heavy heart.
"I watched some of the girl fights, as well as some of the guy fights, that I had a feeling would make it onto the show, and I was interested in seeing how well they did and how I would have coached them," Zingano told Cagewriter. "I wasn't planning to go onto the show looking to change anyone or to tell them, 'Look, this isn't good; change this about yourself.' I really wanted to see what their strengths were and help them to build on them and sharpen them.
"And watching, that realization hit me that I won't get the chance to give that to them. I was really excited to see what I could do to help these fighters and it kind of came over me as I was watching what I had lost [by getting injured]. Now, they're going to get that from the alternate."
The alternate, of course, is Tate. And like Rousey, Zingano is no fan of either Tate or Tate's boyfriend, UFC featherweight Bryan Caraway.
There was no beef between Zingano and Tate until after their bout, when Tate complained about referee Kim Winslow's stoppage. Tate, Zingano said, didn't want to seem to let it go.
That irritated Zingano to no end.
"She is so ungrateful," Zingano said. " ... She was such a poor sport. I read that article where she said Kim Winslow ruined her life. Ruined her life? Was she serious? She got a brand new Range Rover [for coaching TUF]. She got to coach the team I was supposed to coach. She made it into ESPN the Magazine. And she says Winslow ruined her life? That's pretty bad."
Tate did an interview on the SiriusXM "Fight Club" in which she blasted Winslow's decision to stop their fight. Tate said she was fine and could easily have continued.
She was like a yippy Chihuahua the whole time that I was on the bottom. ‘Miesha, you gotta do something. You gotta move.' I'm like, ‘Why? She's not doing anything to me, she's in my half-guard. Nobody finishes fights in half-guard.' But the referee, I thought she was going to stop it. She was over-coaching, over-refereeing.
It's something that is very frustrating when you have other people who have never fought a day in their life, like Kim. She doesn't do anything. I don't think she deserves to be a referee. And if she is, she should go to the amateur levels where it doesn't matter as much, and there's not as much on the line, because she's literally ruining people's lives.
Zingano said the season would have been different had she coached against Rousey rather than Tate. Rousey has an intense dislike for both Tate and Caraway -- "Ronda hates Miesha way more than Miesha hates her," UFC president Dana White said -- and that has colored how she coached.
Rousey has said numerous times she had nothing against Zingano. But Zingano said she wouldn't let a feud fester.
"Ronda has a disrespect for Miesha that goes much deeper than just athletes competing against each other," Zingano said. "Me on the other hand, I don't take criticism, I don't take [expletive] from people. I don't sit back and allow someone to talk crap to me and take little jabs at me.
"It would have been squashed pretty quickly if Ronda was trying to do something like that. I'm ... not going to allow someone to walk on me and I think we would have solved that fairly quickly."
Her rehabilitation, though, is different. She said it will take a while before she's healthy, and hopes to fight somewhere in the February to April time frame. She's just begun training but said she's frustrated that she is unable to go 100 percent the way she likes.