3 reasons it’s a mistake for the UFC to sign Gina Carano

Gina Carano
Gina Carano has spent more of her time at movie premieres than training at the gym lately.
Credit: Getty Images

UFC president Dana White said over the weekend he was preparing to sign fighter/actor Gina Carano to a contract to fight in the league he runs.

“I’m going to meet with Gina next week and get that f—ing thing done. Next week, man,” White told ESPN.com. “It’s just a matter of me and [CEO] Lorenzo [Fertitta] going to jump on a plane to Los Angeles, get in a room with her and her lawyer and get this thing done.”

There’s no question the signing makes sense for the UFC in the short-term. Carano is a marketable star in the sport, as illustrated by her title run in Strikeforce and EliteXC. She’s beautiful obviously, but she does have a legitimate résumé in mixed martial arts. That’s more than can be said for most athletes marketed on their looks (i.e., Anna Kournikova).

But White is making a big mistake here. And we have three reasons why.

1. Who does she fight?

Carano has no opponents in the UFC — literally. She’s always struggled to meet the various weight limits imposed during her MMA career. She often fought at 140 pounds in EliteXC, and could not make the weight on multiple occasions. She weighed in at 144 1/2 pounds in her attempt to fight Kaitlin Young in May 2008 and forfeited part of her purse. She infamously had to strip naked to make 141 pounds for a fight against Kelly Kobold in October 2008. She should be fighting in the 145-pound class she eventually ended up in for her last fight (a loss to Cris “Cyborg” Santos”) in Strikeforce.

The problem for UFC is their ultra-marketable women’s star is Ronda Rousey, who fights at 135 pounds. There’s no chance at all Carano makes 135 pounds. The UFC has no other weight classes for women. So what exactly is White’s plan? Do they create a 145-pound class just for Carano? The promotion is creating a 115-pound class for women, so they may have to do the same for Carano at 145. But how does that help set up UFC for the only fight casual fans want to see: Carano vs. Rousey? Rousey has said she’d fight Carano at whatever weight she wanted, but that was before Carano was actually an option as part of the UFC. It doesn’t make a ton of sense for Rousey to risk her reputation against someone 10 pounds heavier than her even if she’d be favored.

2. Ring rust

Carano hasn’t fought in a competitive bout in five years — the loss to Cyborg in August 2009. In the meantime, she’s been starring in movies like “Haywire” and “Fast & Furious 6.” Is she only returning to the Octagon because her film career is stalled? Or because she actually wants to be an elite fighter? You can’t compete in the UFC, or any major sport, and only be half committed.

There’s also the reality that Carano hasn’t fought since she was 27. She is now 32. She missed the prime five years of any professional sports career to be an actress. It’s not that 32 is too old to be a fighter, but it’s not optimal for someone who hasn’t been in a competitive bout in half a decade. Remember, she’s no longer the young gun at 25, 26, 27 looking to knock off veterans. She’s the veteran. Rousey turned 27 earlier this year and is just now entering the prime of her career.

3. How good is she, really?

As I stated above, Carano is not a fraud in the ring, created solely for marketing purposes, like Kimbo Slice. She worked her way up through the kickboxing circuit and was 12-1-1 in Muay Thai competition before transitioning to MMA. She may not have been an Olympian, like Rousey, but Carano paid her dues before making her way to EliteXC and Strikeforce.

And yet, we still don’t really know how good Carano was, or is. Her entire MMA career in EliteXC and then Strikeforce was working its way up to a bout with Santos. And she lost by TKO at 4:59 in the first round. Even against lesser competition like Kobold, who is 31 and out of the sport, it went the distance.

There’s no question marketability is important in all fighting sports, but the results have to be there for fans to continue caring. Her loss to Cyborg put a big damper on that. It would surprise no one in the MMA community if Carano never got a chance to come against Rousey before her luster was gone. Not to mention a lot of the UFC’s money.

Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.


Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.


Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…


OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…


MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.


Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."


'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.


'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."


TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.


Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.


Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.


Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”


Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.


Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.


Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…


NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.


The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.