Gina Carano is a highly sought after prize by the UFC and indeed, Promotion’s President Dana White has often remarked about how the brand is “close” to signing the 7 – 1 fighter and former Strikeforce and Elite XC star. Setting aside whatever snags that are holding up a deal with the 32-year-old Texas native, it is assumed, nonetheless, that “Conviction” is soon to be restarting her career in the UFC’s Octagon. Further, White has left the impression that Carano’s debut fight in the brand is to be a title match with undefeated bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.
Regarding a ‘coming out’ fight with “Rowdy,” the consensus opinion appears to be that it is asking too much of Carano to take on the 10 – 0 champion and her 100% finishing rate, at least not without giving her (Carano) the benefit of one, if not two, tune-up fights. “Conviction” has not fought competitively since August of 2009 and her first round TKO (Strikeforce) loss to Cristiane Justino. As such, Carano has accumulated half-a-decade’s worth of ring rust and it is hard for fans to see how that amount of inactivity is going to withstand the test that is Ronda Rousey.
Former UFC heavy and light-heavyweight champion Randy Couture is one of those that are of the opinion that Carano will be over her head in facing “Rowdy.” Couture has coached “Conviction” in past years and believes that she has the technical skills to hang with Rousey on the feet; however, as he told the MMA Hour this week (August 4, 2014), grappling with the champion is another question. As Couture puts it, fighting on the mat is Carano’s “Achilles” heel. By “The Natural’s” estimation, the UFC should give Carano a “couple of fights” and allow her “get back on track… (And) shore up her grappling technique,” before they put her in the ring with the champion. If not, Couture does not think it will be much of a fight.
“I think it’s silly. It’d be silly for Gina. I think Gina has way more to lose there than she has to gain in stepping right into a title fight after being off, and off the mats in a training environment, for the last five years… I think if they give her a chance to really get her feet back under her and get back up to technical speed where she was, it would be a very interesting fight… (However) to throw her right in against Ronda Rousey in the very first fight; Ronda is firing on all cylinders right now, has been very active and is as sharp as she can be, right now. That (fight) just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”
Of course, the argument for having an immediate Rousey vs. Carano match is to ensure that the fight happens. If Carano comes back and loses her debut fight in the promotion or failed to win her next one or two matches post a loss, then the UFC would lose a massive pay-per-view (PPV) and that is a gamble the promotion is not likely to take.
However, there is a downside for the UFC if they immediately book the fight upon Carano’s signing and that is the match being a complete bust. As great as Rousey is, watching her smash opponents with little effort is not a fan thrilling event. If the UFC puts “Conviction” in the ring with the champion and she (Carano) gets trashed within the first minute or even first round of the fight, fans are apt to say ‘we told ya so’ to the UFC and probably feel ripped off for their PPV buy.
Regarding it all, it would be great to see Carano back in the ring again. However, if she is going to come back to a sixty-second beating at the hands of Ronda Rousey, then what is the point? Carano needs a couple of fights to get her MMA wind back and as Legacy FC bantamweight champion Holly Holm, who is in shape and ready to go, was wise enough to not seek an immediate title shot upon her signing with the promotion, so too should Carano avoid immediate title glory. To do less is likely to be just signing up for a beating.
Photo courtesy of Randy Couture