Gina Carano reveals why UFC fight with Ronda Rousey never happened, blames Dana White: ‘It made my life very difficult’

Gina Carano reveals why UFC fight with Ronda Rousey never happened, blames Dana White: 'It made my life very difficult'

Before the rise of Ronda Rousey and women’s mixed martial arts as a whole, there was Gina Carano.

During a time when UFC CEO Dana White remained adamant that women would never be a part of his promotion, Carano made a name for herself competing under the Strikeforce and EliteXC banners. Before long, she became the most famous female fighter on the planet.

Gina Carano

In 2009, she famously stepped inside the cage for a showdown with Cris Cyborg, headlining an event on Showtime that featured the likes of Gegard Mousasi, Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral, Gilbert Melendez, and Fabricio Werdum. Carano lost the bout, succumbing to a TKO in the final second of the opening round.

Gina Carano vs. Cris Cyborg

‘Conviction’ never formally announced her retirement from MMA after the loss, but she never fought again. However, it wasn’t due to a lack of trying.

Five years later, as Ronda Rousey was quickly becoming one of the biggest sports stars in the world, Carano liked the idea of a comeback fight against the then-UFC bantamweight champion. During a recent appearance on the PBD Podcast, Carano revealed that conversations with Dana White about making the fight happen were positive, but she ultimately blames him for it not coming to fruition.

“I needed six months,” Carano explained. “Because first of all, weight cutting for me during that time I would struggle because all of the women were in the 135 [pound] weight division and I could get down to 145 but there was only twice in my career where I got down to 136 and 139 and that is like chopping off a leg for me. It was so difficult for me but that’s where all the women were at that time because there wasn’t a lot of women.

“I sat down with Dana and [said] I wish you guys would have approached me five years ago because I’ve been waiting for this so I just need some time and I need you to keep it quiet, Dana. Keep it really quiet because I didn’t have a gym. I would have to go [re-immerse] myself in a gym, which when I go in a gym people put cameras on me and you have to find and build your team and I wasn’t living in Las Vegas, which is where my team was. So I was living in L.A. and it would have been hard and I needed to rebuild a team and do it right.

“Dana, and I love him now, he’s been amazing now but Dana’s Dana. He immediately started talking about it and it made my life very difficult to try and get to go into that” (h/t MMA Fighting).

On top of that, Carano was actively being courted by Hollywood after she landed the lead role in Haywire, an action thriller directed by Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh which was well received by critics and featured an immensely talented cast of actors.

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Gina Carano at the Haywire premiere

“It is a very difficult thing to try and do both of those things at once,” Carano said about acting and fighting. “In my head, I’m just so passionate about the storytelling and the last couple of years I’ve just been passionate about trying to get back into that.”

After appearing in Deadpool opposite Ryan Reynolds, it was off to the races for Carano’s acting career. She had even earned herself a recurring role on the incredibly popular Disney+ series The Mandalorian and was in line for her own spinoff show before an ill-advised post on social media brought her budding film and television career to a crashing halt.

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Gina Carano in The Mandalorian

Gina Carano confident she would have won fabled fight Against Ronda Rousey

Of course, her fight with Ronda Rousey never came to be, but to this day, Gina Carano remains confident she would have come out on top.

“I do, absolutely [believe I would have won],” Carano said. “Because I pack a hell of a punch. I know how she punches. I punch like a trucker. [She would have the edge] on the ground obviously but I’m scramble. It’s no disrespect and I’m sure she would say the same thing that she would win, but that’s just something I know. After you’ve been punched like that, she got shook twice [by] Amanda Nunes and Holly Holm, I’m one of the hardest punchers that women’s mixed martial arts has ever seen.”

Though confident she would have finished Rousey inside the Octagon, Carano has nothing but respect for the UFC Hall of Famer. After all, Rousey often touted Carano as the reason she pursued mixed martial arts — something the former World MMA Awards’ Female Fighter of the Year never forgot.

“Ronda has just been such a respectful [person], she was such a little sh*t talker throughout her career, but the one person she didn’t really sh*t talk was me, really,” Carano said. “She really always did give me that tribute. To have not made the walk in the UFC and gotten to fight, to have the person that did really break down those barriers, that is very special to me and I think she’s a very special person.

“I think she gets a really bad [reputation] and people like to paint her as the bad guy, just because she likes to play the heel. She doesn’t mind playing the heel. It’s just certain people’s personalities but I think when you look deeper at the person that she is, which I watch and I study people, I think that’s a very special, special person.”