Not many fans knew exactly who Cat Zingano was coming into her bout with Miesha Tate at The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale. That all changed with one of the most emotional scenes in recent MMA history.

Although fans watching at home didn’t see it, Twitter and Facebook lit up with reports of Zingano crying while making her way to the Octagon.

However, her tears of joy were quickly wiped away once the opening bell rang. Tate seemed to be on her way to a dominant showing as the first round came to a close.

It appeared as though the Octagon jitters were ready to claim another victim, but Zingano persevered. She bounced back from a rocky outing to eventually stop Tate in the final frame. The win not only maintained her perfect record, but also earned her a coaching gig opposite UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter.

I’m sure the UFC will look to turn this into the “Rousey Power Hour” in an attempt to build her star power. It’s a smart strategy, as it’s clear Rousey is a star that transcends multiple demographics and has the drawing power. Yet there’s still room for Zingano to steal the spotlight away.

The UFC has a ready-made storyline to spin with Zingano. That’s because she’s the first mother to compete in the Octagon. While I don’t anticipate too many soccer moms tuning into TUF 18, it does present the opportunity to reach a market with which the UFC typically has zero drawing power.

There’s also the anti-Rousey effect the show is likely to produce. Fans need only flashback a few months to remember when Rousey’s rise to stardom began. It became nearly impossible to go on any MMA site without seeing an article, photo, video or mention of the UFC champion. This overexposure led many fans to break away from the mold and reject the fighter. After all, if you heard the same thing every day, wouldn’t you be tired of it?

That’s where Zingano’s chance to shine will come in. Rousey is typically outspoken and very opinionated. Zingano seems to be the exact opposite and provides a nice counterbalance to Rousey’s brashness.

The most obvious aspect the UFC has to build Zingano up is the fact that it needs her to look like a world beater going up against Rousey. Zingano is undefeated and coming off a victory over one of the more highly regarded female fighters in Tate. That combined with the UFC’s marketing machine should prop Zingano up to look like a true threat to Rousey’s title.

Zingano has the chance to become a star in the world of mixed martial arts with her coaching gig. The UFC needs her to do just that in order to generate interest in not only the show but also for when the two ladies meet in the Octagon. With both sides looking to build the challenger up, don’t be surprised if Zingano is the one whose star power shines the brightest on TUF 18.

Photo: Cat Zingano (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.