Top UFC bantamweight contender Cat Zingano hasn't fought for over a year because of a torn ACL. As a result, she missed a chance to coach on The Ultimate Fighter and fight against champion Ronda Rousey.
Throughout most of her time out, UFC president Dana White has insisted that "Alpha" Cat is still the top contender and has earned a title shot upon her return. Earlier this month, Zingano was cleared to begin hard training again and so the question of her place in the women's 135 pound division is very much a topical one.
In an apparent change of mind, Damon Martin reported on Twitter that White now says Zingano won't fight for the belt in her first match back in the UFC.
Dana White says Cat Zingano is still No. 1 contender, but she will probably fight again before getting Rousey or Alexis Davis #UFC— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) May 22, 2014
Of course, the point of being the number one contender in a division is that you get to fight the champion next. So, White's designation of Zingano has the number one contender in the bantamweight division seems pointless if she isn't going to fight whoever is champion once she fights again.
Perhaps White meant that Zingano would get a warm up fight first and, regardless of whether or not she loses, she'd get her title shot afterwards. A scenario such as that, however, is pretty much without precedent in the UFC and so it seems unlikely.
All that said, perhaps Zingano herself wants to ease back into the Octagon considering her long lay off and rough year that she's had. Comments from Zingano and her manager from earlier this year, however, seem to indicate that she still had her eyes on the immediate title shot she earned by finishing Miesha Tate in April, 2013.
Ronda Rousey defends her belt against Alexis Davis in July at UFC 175. White has also recently said that Zingano won't fight top contender Sarah Kaufman next, either.
Do you think it's a smarter move for Zingano to not rush into a title fight or do you want to see her against the champ asap? Let us know in the comments section.