At one time, former EliteXC and Strikeforce fighter Gina Carano was known as “The Face of Women’s MMA”. Carano was unbeaten, gorgeous, and decidedly vicious in the cage, with a 7-0 flawless record that included four finishes with two first-round stoppages. Then, of course, Carano met Cristiane Santos in the first-ever MMA event headlined by a women’s MMA fight, and hasn’t fought since. But that’s about to change, as it’s recently been revealed that Carano is back in training and is more than likely planning a major comeback.
It was recently announced on the official blog of Xtreme Couture that Carano is back in the gym. Carano has been inactive since August 2009, and in the same vein as Cung Le, Roger Huerta, and others, Carano spent her time outside the cage focusing on developing a film career. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has expressed interest in getting Carano back in the cage several times during her absence from the sport.
When it comes to Gina Carano, I really can’t say too many negative things about the woman. Some cynics say that Carano was just a pretty face and that “Cyborg” Santos proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt, but I don’t think so and I’m a massive Cristiane Santos fan. Remember, my saying regarding Santos/Carano is “while Gina Carano may be the face of women’s MMA, Cristiane Santos is its soul.”
That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to see Carano back in the cage, though. I think Carano paved the way for women’s MMA to slowly begin entering the mainstream. I also think that the ends justifies the means: even if it was just because of how she looks, she still helped grow and bring attention to the sport in general and women’s MMA in particular.
I don’t think one loss, however big, makes or breaks your career. I think any fighter can make an epic comeback if given the right amount of time, focus, tough training, and dedication. In today’s MMA world, truly anything is possible. And there’s certainly more than enough room in Strikeforce’s 145-pound women’s division to give Carano another chance at championship relevancy.
Carano isn’t even that bad of a fighter, either. She’s very entertaining, she hits hard, and she can definitely take a good punch. Plus, it’s always possible that she could return, go on another win-streak, and then challenge Cristiane Santos for a second time. That would probably be the biggest rematch in women’s MMA history, and it would almost certainly put both women back in the main event of a major Strikeforce show.
So, love her or hate her, I think you’ve simply got to respect Gina Carano. I’m glad she’s coming back to the sport, and I look forward to seeing what Carano does to reassert herself in the division she helped make famous. I think Carano is an important piece of the puzzle: “Cyborg” Santos brings women’s MMA credibility, Carano brings it marketability. And both are important for a division of MMA that’s only just gotten on the mainstream’s radar.
And what about you, fans and friends? Any thoughts on Gina Carano and her possible future as she attempts an MMA comeback?