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UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Cat Zingano’s Bellator debut took longer to occur than she might have anticipated, but it turned out to be worth the wait.

The popular former UFC title bantamweight title challenger, who signed with Bellator last October, was victorious Friday night in the co-feature bout of Bellator 245, as she defeated Gabrielle Holloway via unanimous decision. Zingano (11-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) cruised over the first two rounds, then held off a third-round rally before regaining control and holding on for the victory. The judges’ scores were 29-27, 30-26, and 30-26.

“I wanted this to be a quick night, no one wants to stay in here the whole 15 minutes … we went the whole distance and that was good, it was an incredible fight.”

The bout was scheduled to be contested at featherweight, but Holloway missed weight Thursday, coming in at 150.7 pounds.

The first two rounds were a simple equation, as Zingano scored takedowns, then used top and side control to dominate the majority of the rounds. A 60-5 advantage in significant strikes over the first 10 minutes tells the story.

Holloway (6-6 MMA, 1-3 BMMA) had her moments in the third round, as she managed to reverse position on the ground, then rained down punches and elbows from top position for the better part of a minute. But Zingano managed to regain control, and finished the fight raining down blows from top position.

Zingano landed 31 knees over the course of the fight to zero for Holloway, and scored five takedowns to Holloway’s one.

The victory, in her first fight since Dec. 2018, was the second in Zingano’s past three fights, and her third career decision win. Holloway lost for the fourth time in her past five bouts.

Bellator 245 takes place Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The main card airs on Paramount and streams on DAZN following prelims on MMA Junkie.

Up-to-the-minute Bellator 245 results:

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