Cat Zingano has a task that no one yet has completed yet: beating Ronda Rousey.
Rousey has won eight of her 10 fights by armbar submission, and for good measure she rendered former Olympic wrestler Sara McMann useless with a blow to the gut and beat Alexis Davis in only 16 seconds in her last bout.
Also unbeaten, Zingano’s training to win the fight is not based on her own full analysis of how to defeat the undefeated.
“That would kill me, so I just focus on myself,” Zingano said this week. “I trust my coaches. They look at that and try to stimulate and trick me to work toward things that will benefit me. I’ll put it together. They hand me a problem. I solve it, and hand it back.”
What about Rousey’s armbar ability?
“I don’t think anything of it,” Zingano said. “The people she caught with it, they were stressing out about it and they put way too much energy in it. I’m good at what I do. I’m sharpening my skills. And I’m staying on top of what I do. I don’t feel I’ll give her a chance.
“I’m extremely rounded, and have the opportunity to do whatever I want. Everything that can happen in an MMA fight, I’ve seen it before.”
Zingano’s intangibles are immense.
She was in line to fight Rousey after defeating Miesha Tate by strikes in April 2013, but tore a knee ligament in the next month, and was pulled off participating with Rousey in “The Ultimate Fighter” reality television series.
In January 2014, her husband, Mauricio, committed suicide, leaving her to raise their son.
Zingano fought in September, beating Amanda Nunes by strikes in the third round. She’s the No. 1 contender.
“It’s a big deal, a long road that didn’t happen overnight,” Zingano said. “All these things, everything that’s gone on, I just feel like there had to be something great that came from it. I’ve got to appreciate every minute of it.”
This entire weekend, which includes a Friday Invicta Fight Club card in Los Angeles headlined by Cris “Cyborg” Justino, is a result of the attention Rousey has brought to women’s MMA fighting.
Saturday’s co-main event at Staples Center is a likely title qualifier between former boxing champion Holly Holm and ex-TUF participant Raquel Pennington.
“I’m grateful for everything [Rousey’s] done, the way she’s out there,” Zingano said. “She’s played it right, gotten the attention, gotten the hype.
“It will be a huge deal for me to beat her because I have a lot of respect for her and everything she’s done.”