Zingano, who most recently underwent stem cell treatment to her left knee, is doing well in her recovery, White said. She is expected to return to fighting by the middle of 2014.
“She's doing good,” White told reporters, when asked of Zingano's rehabilitation. “Hopefully she stays healthy and we can get her back by summer.
“She's the No. 1 contender. Numero uno. When she's healthy, she'll be ready to go.”
Zingano was originally scheduled to coach opposite Ronda Rousey on the 18th season of The Ultimate Fighter, but a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus put a stop to those plans. Zingano injured her knee while doing a routine workout, forcing her into surgery shortly after.
“Snap, crackle, pop, and I hit the floor,” Zingano told official MMAWeekly.com content partner Yahoo! Sports back in May. “That was all she wrote. It was terrible. It hurt bad, but the thing that bothered me most was the sound. I never experienced anything like that.”
Overcompensation on the left leg made for more knee problems, Zingano told UFC Tonight in October. Zingano said she opted for the stem cell procedure instead of surgery, and expected to be back by April 2o14.
Rousey and Miesha Tate ended up coaching the reality show, and the two will have a rematch of their title fight from Strikeforce on Dec. 28 at UFC 168 in Las Vegas. Assuming all goes well with recovery, Zingano will meet the winner.
In terms of other fighters in the division, White added that undefeated Sara McMann will be back in early 2014, after having taken some time off to deal with “some personal issues.”
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