Before Ronda Rousey helped usher women’s MMA into the mainstream world of sports one woman really got the ball rolling and her name is Gina Carano.
After capturing the sports world’s attention with her looks, personality, and most importantly, her fighting skill, Carano and Cris Cyborg became the first women to headline a major MMA promotion’s event at Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg, which Showtime aired live on August 15, 2009.
Unfortunately for Carano, who entered the fight 7-0 versus a 7-1 Cyborg, she was defeated by TKO at 4:59 in the first round – the last time she ever fought in MMA.
Carano was scheduled to fight for Strikeforce again on June 18, 2011, but for unknown reasons the fight never materialized.
In September of 2014, Carano was in negotiations to fight against then UFC champion Ronda Rousey in December, but once again it ended up not happening. No specific reason was ever publicly given other than that negotiations had broken down.
Now however, in a new interview with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Carano revealed what she says happened and why these days she’s now instead of perhaps entering the UFC Hall of Fame she’s starring in The Mandalorian.
“When Ronda Rousey became popular, I remember they finally called for a meeting and I walked into this restaurant, and they looked like two big muscular guys at the table in the middle of Hollywood and I remember thinking, ‘What took you guys so long?’” said Carano (transcript via MMAMania.com).
“So they were like, ‘Okay, we’d love to offer you a million dollars to have that fight (against Ronda Rousey).’” And I was like, ‘Well that sounds great, but I am going to need you to do me a favor because I have been acting now and I’m not active in any gym, so you are going to have to give me some time to build a team or join a team.’ Which is not an easy thing as all fighters know.
“So I told them they would have to be able to sit on it for six months, Dana, you can’t say anything and let me get situated with that in mind because that sounds great and I’d love to do it. It was a nice dinner and we all left positive and I was stoked and it made sense for my moment to get back in there,” she continued.
“And then the next day, Dana was out there talking about me and talking about my name and telling people that he was going to sign me and I don’t even have a team yet. And I was like, that is not what we discussed. You were supposed to give me at least six months to find a team. Then he started to put on the pressure in the media. It was a bummer because I told him over a text message that it was not what we had talked about. I needed time, and now I am going to walk into a gym and people know that’s what I’m doing and I needed to build trust and find people.”
It was at that point Carano says, that White sent her a text message calling her a bitch, which she assumed was sent by accident. It was not.
“So, then he kept on doing that and kept on doing that and I’m still searching and feeling all that pressure. He then sent me a text message that said, ‘This bitch is effin’ us around,’ or something like that,” she recounted.
“So I sent a text message back and said, ‘I think that you sent that to the wrong person?’ And he said, ‘I don’t think I did.’ And that was the last conversation that we ever had over text message because I don’t think that was the kind of environment that I wanted to come back into. So I just cut off all communication after that text.”
Carano did add that she ran into White later on and he “genuinely apologized,” but by then it was too little, too late, the acting bug had bit her and she was done fighting.
Too bad, because that would have been one hell of a fun fight to watch.
An emotional Carano also admitted that it was her goal to become the first woman fighter signed by the UFC, but “it was a dream that didn’t get to happen. But, I was able to open up doors for women to be able to walk into gyms and it could be easier. And I will always cherish that.”
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