Five years ago, Gina Carano, once the face of the emerging Women’s MMA division, spoke to MMAWeekly about the hot prospect on the rise, Ronda Rousey. The following is our story with Jamie Penick’s analysis…
In 2008 and 2009, Gina Carano skyrocketed to fame as the first face of women’s mixed martial arts. Her wins on CBS over Kaitlin Young and Kelly Kobold captured the attention of millions, and led to her historic headlining fight with Cris “Cyborg” Santos on Showtime in August of 2009.
Fast forward almost three years, and Strikeforce has another big women’s fight headlining a card on March 3. It’s not as big as Carano-Santos, but the Miesha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey bout has gotten more attention from MMA fans than perhaps any other women’s fight since then.
“I would love to [come out to the fight],” Carano said this week in an interview with MMAWeekly.com. “The only reason I haven’t gone to a bunch of the women’s fights, cause I absolutely love them, but I don’t want to show up and people are like ‘Gina’s trying to show up to steal attention’ or trying to challenge anybody. They usually put the camera on me and that’s their moment.
“So I’d love to come out, but I’d love to come out as a fan instead of as a potential opponent, because that’s Miesha and Ronda’s moment. I’m so excited about that fight.”
Carano’s MMA return was expected to come in 2011, but a mysterious medical issue took her out of a fight in June, and her time in MMA appears to be coming to an end. After a starring role in the film “Haywire,” she’s already booked her next acting gig in a film that begins production in the coming months. Still, while her time in the cage is over with, she gave her thoughts on both Tate and Rousey into their March 3 matchup in Columbus, Ohio.
“I completely thought that Marloes Coenen was going to win in that last fight against Miesha, so I was really impressed with Miesha,” Carano said. “I think Miesha Tate works really hard and I think a lot of people thought Marloes was going to win that fight, so I think she gained a lot of respect from a lot of people. I don’t think we can underestimate her anymore. She’s a legit opponent.”
“I think it’s really cool that Ronda’s an Olympic athlete,” Carano continued. “She’s been a part of a lot of competitions, she’s got the drive, and obviously she’s got the skill. Not one of her fights has gone out of the first round, so I think it’s going to be really interesting to see.”
“Both of those women are hard workers and have stronger personalities. I hope that it does well. I’m super excited about it.”
Penick’s Analysis: It’s not necessarily a passing of the torch from Carano to Tate and Rousey, but it is some legitimate respect and admiration being handed down on them from one of the first fighters to put women’s MMA into the consciousness of most fans. Tate and Rousey would love to be the next one’s to capture that attention, and to make more fans care about women’s MMA than perhaps do right now. This fight itself may not be the most watched in WMMA history, but it will have a lot of attention and will hopefully provide a great fight that can propel the victor to the next level. Both have styles and looks that can lead to big fan-bases, and they’ll need to continue winning and making sure that people want to see them fight moving forward. March 3 is a big day for both of them, and it’s a chance for one to possibly break out even further.