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Cat Zingano is opening up about what it’s like to be a trailblazer in her sport, with the 39-year-old becoming the first mother to compete in The UFC Octagon.

The MMA fighter is used to breaking new ground and shattering records as the first woman to win a UFC fight by TKO in 2013.

Zingano credits her success on the mat to her early days wrestling against boys. Known for her scrappy style, Zingano says she had to adjust her approach from the start in order to win. Though she was never as strong as her opponents, Zingano says she deployed her flexibility and center of gravity to beat the boys.

“I had to learn how to wrestle as a girl against guys and use the differences in my body to my advantage against the strengths in their body,” Zingano tells Whistle.

In October 2005, early on in Zingano’s professional campaign, her mother got sick and passed away. On the same day, Zingano found out she was pregnant with her son. That’s when the MMA fighter says everything changed.

“Brayden has been this gift to my life that has honestly saved my life a couple times,” Zingano says of her now teenage son. “What’s best for my kid has always ended up being what’s best for me.”

As a single mom, Zingano says she aims to fulfill multiple roles, introducing her son to wrestling and also preparing him for young adulthood.

“Parenting is so tricky,” she says. “It’s the most wonderful thing in the world, so rewarding and so hard sometimes.”

Holding onto her medals and memorabilia from an illustrious career, Zingano hopes to share the memories with her son after she retires.