Gina Carano was once the most popular women’s MMA fighter. The UFC says she is one signature away from fighting again.
Face of Women’s MMA
Gina Carano was undoubtedly the face of women’s MMA in the previous decade. She fought for World Extreme Fighting, Elite XC and Strikeforce before retiring in 2009. Carano went undefeated in her first seven bouts before fighting Cris “Cyborg” Justino for the first ever Women’s title match in 2009 at Strikeforce: Carano vs Cyborg. Carano lost the fight via TKO at the 4:59 mark of Round 1. Following that loss, Carano announced her retirement from MMA.
Post MMA Career
Carano took her acting career seriously after retiring from MMA. Her first major break was getting the lead role in the 2011 movie Haywire, which earned her a nomination for Best Actress in an Action Movie at the 18th Critics’ Choice Awards. In 2012, Carano was cast in the action thriller movie In the Blood.
She also starred in the 2013 blockbuster hit Fast and Furious 6. Aside from these, Gina also had other minor roles in other movies and televisions shows. Her popularity earned her the accolade of the 5th most influential woman in 2008 according to Yahoo. Carano was also included in the Top 10 most searched female athletes in Yahoo for 2013.
Last Friday, UFC Dana White confirmed the promotion’s negotiations with Gina Carano. He is expected to fly to Los Angeles this week along with UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta to meet Carano and her lawyer to finalize the contract. White is confident that the UFC will have Carano signed by the end of this week. Carano was technically under contract with Zuffa, the UFC’s holding company, since she was a holdover from the Strikeforce promotion. However, that contract expired last month, prompting White to act swiftly to sigh her.
If indeed Gina is returning, she will bolster the UFC’s women’s roster who already added unbeaten boxer and MMA fighter Holly Holm last week.
The Dream Match
Earlier this year, Gina Carano was rumored to be making a comeback to fight current UFC Women’s bantamweight Ronda Rousey in what is being built up as the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout in MMA. But White never got to sign Carano early this year, and Rousey went on to face and annihilate Alexis Davis at UFC 175.
Aside from her scheduled minor knee procedure, Rousey suffered lacerations and a broken hand during UFC 175. These injuries will definitely keep her out until perhaps the end of the year. Rousey has previously stated that she wants to fight in the UFC’s Annual Year end show which is usually its biggest. Should that be her timetable, it is very possible that Zuffa is angling at a Rousey-Carano dream match to end the year.
Carano has been out for a long time in the octagon. She lost to Cyborg via one round TKO in her last bout. Although everyone does not expect a competitive fight once the two meet in the Octagon, the fight will transcend beyond MMA. It will be the biggest women’s fight ever-in any sport, given the popularity of the two combatants. It won’t be close in the scorecards, but it will break a lot of money records for the UFC. And that’s why White and Ferttita are trying to move heaven and earth to sign Gina Carano.