Cat Zingano: Cris Cyborg has ‘kind of turned into an awkward bully’

The most polite way Cat Zingano can characterize her relationship with Bellator featherweight champ Cris Cyborg right now is this: “She’s not my favorite person.”

That encapsulates all the “really cringey, creepy things” Zingano said Cyborg has said and done since she became a contender for the featherweight belt.

“It’s a bummer, because I really did respect her for a long time, and we knew some pretty close people and similar friends and relationships, and I don’t really know what she’s trying to do with her legacy now,” Zingano said on The MMA Hour. “She’s kind of turned into an awkward bully, and it just bums me out. She really was a great athlete for a while, and I don’t really know what she’s doing.”

Zingano expects to fight for the title in late September or early October for a fight promotion that could look drastically different with acquisition rumors in the air. She’s not fond of the idea that many of her colleagues could lose their contracts in a potential merger with a promotion like PFL, which reportedly is in the market for buying the Paramount-owned Bellator. At the same time, it doesn’t change her immediate job.

As a one-time UFC title challenger, Zingano joined Bellator with a leg up on other competition, and it wasn’t long before Cyborg took notice. That led to an extended back-and-forth including cheating allegations and accusations of ducking fights. But where things crossed the line, according to Zingano, was prior to her most recent fight, when Cyborg (or someone closely affiliated with the champ) purchased the URL for her full fight name and turned it into an advertisement for Cyborg’s accomplishments.

“I just thought it was weird, and like, what is that, like a sociopath? Why are you constantly thinking about me? Why are you constantly messing with me?” Zingano asked. “It’s weird, because I want to beat the s*** out of her the second I see her, which I don’t want to get in trouble. The other one is like, how cringey and creepy and stalker-y she is, it makes me think about a restraining order? What do you do about somebody like that?”

Ultimately, Zingano can only shrug her shoulders and continue to prepare for the fight. It’s a chance for her to win a major title from a fighter considered to be among the pound-for-pound greats in the sport. If she has to put up with more bullying, that’s part of the job.

“I understand it’s the industry, and people talking, and making waves to introduce the fight is one thing,” she said. “But the fight is happening. I don’t really know why she’s so weird. She’s a weird girl these days.”