Although she was at one time known as “The Face of Women’s MMA”, former EliteXC and Strikeforce star Gina Carano hasn’t seen the inside of a cage since August 2009, when she lost a pivotal showdown to Cristiane Santos with literally one second left in the round. Carano has virtually vanished from the MMA landscape and the popular media in general since that deflating loss, while “Cyborg” has gone on to rival and some would say even eclipse Carano’s fame thanks to Santos' downright scary performances highlighted by the utter destruction of her opponents. But fear not Carano fans, according to Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, Carano’s MMA career is far from over.

Here’s what the soft-spoken promotional head had to say over at Sherdog: “I know Gina is not going to go out the way that it went down. Her whole thing now is just timing and scheduling”¦ I know, just like Cung [Le] or other people that have [been] part of the film business ”¦ they’re still a fighter by heart, believe me, and they have that desire to compete. I think Gina will be the same. It’s just a matter of time. I believe she will fight in 2011.”

For those unaware, Carano has apparently spent her time on the MMA sidelines working on getting a film career started. Carano is set to star in the Lionsgate-produced, Steven Soderbergh-directed “Haywire”, a story about a “girl from the wrong side of the tracks who is given a second chance to use her skills for constructive purposes”, according to a plot summary courtesy of

I know what you’re thinking, fans and friends: an Oscar nominee it is not. It seems that more and more fighters are getting into Hollywood these days, with some far more successful at it than others, while the vast majority end up with super-cheesy ultra-brief cameos in standard direct-to-video action movie schlock. But it’s hard to fault a popular MMA star for using his/her popularity to try and break into new markets. They earned their fame by dishing out and taking in more punishment than I’m sure just about any average person would be willing to endure, so I think they’re well within their rights to squeeze every last penny out of their popularity.

In regards to Gina Carano fighting again, it’s honestly something I would indeed look forward to. I think Carano is talented even if she was way over-hyped due to her good looks. I once famously said “Gina Carano may be the face of women’s MMA, but Cristiane Santos is its soul.” I still firmly believe that, but I also believe that Carano can still have quite a career in Mixed Martial Arts if she wants it badly enough.

The only problem is that she doesn’t seem to want it at all. It’s been over a year since she last fought and we’ve heard virtually nothing from her. Does she really want to keep fighting? What changes will she make when she returns? If Carano puts her heart and soul into making a comeback, I think she could once again become one of the premiere forces in women’s MMA. If not, her best bet is to not return at all.

And what about you, fans and friends? What do you think the future holds for Gina Carano, and how successful do you think she would be if she returned to Strikeforce?

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