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Carano considering MMA return for Rousey showdown

Carlos Cinco
Carano considering MMA return for Rousey showdown
Gina Carano dropped hints of a possible return to mixed martial arts, where a showdown between her and Ronda Rousey looms

Gina Carano dropped hints of a possible return to mixed martial arts after five years away from the octagon on a recent guesting on The Arsenio Hall Show.

Carano, whose last fight was against Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino in August of 2009, where she was stopped at 4:59 of the first round, prompting her to step away from the cage for a period of time. Up to that point, Carano was a mainstay of the Strikeforce promotion, which was bought out by the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2011.

Since then, Carano made the ultimate crossover into Hollywood, playing the lead role in 2011’s Haywire – a film about a black ops super soldier seeking vengeance after being betrayed on one of her missions. It was however her breakout role in 2013’s Fast and Furious 6, where Carano played Riley, a member of CIA Agent Luke Hobbs’ team (played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), that ultimately billed Carano as a certifiable action star.

Carano’s possible return to the UFC has the entire sport of mixed martial arts buzzing, as a potential matchup between her and reigning UFC women’s bantamweight champion, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, looms. 

“Yeah, I’m actually kind of considering it (making a comeback),” said Carano, in a sit down interview with talk show host Arsenio Hall. “I’m actually sitting down with [Dana White] next week. I love [fighting]. It’s something I can do that makes everything else disappear. I dream about it,” Carano added.

Carano first competed professionally in MMA in 2006, defeating Leiticia Pestova via first round stoppage. She won her next six fights after that, before running into “Cyborg.”

“I walked into a gym and watched an ex-boyfriend practice Muay Thai,” recounts Carano, on how she started fighting. “And I had been in a couple of fights growing up in Vegas. So I decided to start training about 10 years ago and I just ended up being really good at it.”

Carano’s stand-up game features powerful leg kicks and pinpoint punching, assets that earned her 7 victories, 3 by way of knockout. But her mass appeal comes from having a ferocious skill set coupled with her undeniable beauty.

Fans quickly picked up on her popularity, and Carano became the face of women’s MMA.

“I was just at the beginning, at the right place, at the right time,” Carano humbly explained her rise to mainstream consciousness. “And there was something about me being aggressive. People responded to it well.”

Carano used her fame inside the cage to catapult herself into Hollywood, but confesses that fighting is still something that is embedded into her lifestyle. 

“I 100% do (think of fighting),” says Carano. “There’s not a workout that I go through that I’m not fighting somebody in my mind. It’s never gone away,” she added.

Carano now feels it’s time to make a comeback in the sport that made her famous.

“I just didn’t know if I was ever going to get the opportunity to make a comeback. So I’m either going to do it now or I’m going to retire and just say ‘Okay, I’m never going to do it.’”

“So now’s the moment, I feel,” explained Carano, in excitement.

If Carano thinks that it’s time to make a comeback and enter the Octagon once again, there’s sure to be a whole throng of fans wanting to see her back in there successfully, fighting the best opposition available – and certainly that would have to mean Ronda Rousey, the UFC’s biggest star. However, some significant obstacles could prevent the fight from ever happening, not the least of which is the difference in weight. 

Carano is in a class of her own, literally. She weighs around 145 lbs. and has had previous difficulty making the 135 pound women’s bantamweight limit, where Rousey is champion. To make the fight possible, a new 145 lb. weight class will have to be created and Rousey would have to be willing to move up in weight, a move that the champion has been reluctant to do.

With the UFC potentially also signing Cristiane Justino, the new weight class could emerge soon, as well as a ton of women MMA fighters. The addition of Carano to the UFC women’s roster would at the very least make a bunch of interesting fights.

Even given the hurdles to making a Rousey-Carano matchup, it’s not stopping the MMA world from salivating at the possibility of a superfight.

For now however, it is all left up to speculation. At this point, Carano still has a decision to make, if she really is willing to go back to the grind. 

A fighter’s lifestyle is highly taxing, emotionally and physically. The rigors of a full training camp, paired with the struggle to make weight are all factors Carano would have to consider before ultimately deciding to make her long-awaited comeback. –

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