Cat Zingano has had her fair share of injuries during her time as an MMA fighter including a dislocated jaw, broken ribs and knee injuries, but they all pale in comparison to the pain she went through after she suffered an eye injury courtesy of a high-kick from Megan Anderson at UFC 232 in December.
Anderson’s toe caught Zingano in the eye in the opening round of their fight damaging “Alpha’s” retina and iris.
The MMA veteran says she will need to re-think her style the next time she steps into the Octagon as she doesn’t want a repeat of the injury where she feared she has lost her eye (transcribed via MMAJunkie.com):
“I’d have a baby 10 times before I’d do that again,” Zingano told reporters backstage recently at UFC on ESPN 1. After the head kick, Zingano feared the worst considering the pain she felt and the fact she couldn’t open her eye at all.
“I thought I lost my eye,” she said. “I thought if I opened my eye that it was going to spill out on to my face. I didn’t want to open it in the cage. When they came up and checked on me and told me to open it, I was like, ‘You’re not the one that I’m going to open this for. I need somebody who knows what’s up.'”
While the injury could have been far worse, Zingano has been told by doctors that she will make a full recovery and be able to compete again.
The 36-year-old is still suffering symptoms from the injury, seeing “floaters” and flashes of light in the damaged eye. During training, her right eye pulses in her head and the injury has meant her balance and depth perception are off.
Zingano was sitting cageside at the recent UFC card on ESPN 1 and said that because of her own injury she’s become more aware of just how violent the sport is.
“I’m like, ‘All right, this is intense,'” Zingano said. “You don’t realize how hurt you actually can get in there.”
Zingano ran into retired UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping backstage after the event. “The Count” has a well-documented eye injury as a result of a head kick head kick from Vitor Belfort, which eventually rendered him completely blind in one eye. Zingano said Bisping talked to her about his own experiences in recovering from an eye injury before taking out his cosmetic overlay and showing her his real eye.
“I didn’t ask him to take his eye out, but he took it out just to show me,” she said.
Zingano has been vocal in getting the result against Anderson overturned by appealing to the California State Athletic Commission for clarity on the rules relating to eye pokes. The CSAC declined the appeal although the commission’s executive director, Andy Foster, said an addendum will be developed in time to address the issue of pokes to the eye from a finger or toe to make it clearer.
“If they don’t make a rule on it, it’s open season on eye pokes,” Zingano said. “I’ve got mad dexterity with my toes, so if you’re telling me we get to just aim for people’s eyeballs with our toes now, that’s not really safe moving forward, but we’ll all find a way to win.
“If you put me in something on the ground, and I get to dig my toes into your eyes, too, that’s kind of gnarly, but we’re in there trying to survive. Me or you, man,” Zingano added.
Zingano, who has lost four out of her last five fights, said she’d like another chance at fighting Anderson to avenge her loss once she’s recovered fully from the injury although this time she’ll have her hand up.
“I caught nothing but toe in my eye,” Zingano said. “She didn’t kick me in the head. It would otherwise not even messed up my hair. It scared me, and I’m not willing to lose an eye for this sport.”