Morning Report: Gina Carano reveals how profane text by Dana White ruined a fight between her, Ronda Rousey

Gina Carano (Getty Images)

Gina Carano is one of the most prominent figure in women’s MMA history. A former Muay Thai fighter, Carano rose to prominence in MMA, become arguably the first bankable female mixed martial artist. Competing for Strikeforce and EliteXC, Carano was one half of the first female MMA fight aired in primetime on major American network television, and went on to fight Cris Cyborg in a seminal moment in MMA – the first time two women headlined a major event. In many ways, Carano laid the foundation for what Ronda Rousey went on to become and, apparently, she was much closer to actually fighting Rousey in the UFC than most realized.

Speaking with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani yesterday, Carano discussed how she was in talks with the UFC to face Rousey back in 2014, and how those talks ultimately got derailed by UFC president Dana White.

“When Ronda Rousey became popular, I remember they finally called for a meeting and I walked into this restaurant and [Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White] looked like two big muscly guys at the table in the middle of Hollywood and I remember thinking, ‘What took you guys so long?’” Carano said.

“So they were like, ‘Okay, we’d love to offer you a million dollars to have that fight (against Ronda Rousey).’ And I was like, ‘Well that sounds great, [but] I am going to need you to do me a favor then because I have been acting now and I’m not active in any gym, so you’re going to have to give me some time to build a team, to join a team.’ Which is not an easy thing as all fighters know…

“So I told them they would have to be able to sit on it for six months, Dana, you can’t say anything and let me get situated with that in mind because that sounds great and I’d love to do it. It was a nice dinner and we all left positive and I left stoked. It made sense. This is my moment to come and be back in there.”

At the time, Carano had been absent from the cage for nearly five years. Following her loss to Cyborg, Carano retired from MMA and made the move to acting, landing the lead role in the Steven Soderbergh (Academy Award winning director) movie Haywire. By the time she sat down with Dana White to discuss a return to MMA, Carano had recently appeared in Fast & Furious 6, the sixth highest-grossing film released in 2013, and a return to MMA to face Ronda Rousey as she was pushing MMA stardom to new heights would’ve been a huge deal. But unfortunately, not long after their conversation, Carano says Dana White ruined the whole thing.

“And then the next day, Dana was out there talking about me and talking about my name and telling people that he was going to sign me and I don’t even have a team yet,” Carano said. “And I was like, that is not what we discussed. You were supposed to give me at least six months to find a team. Then he started trying to put on the pressure through the media. It was a bummer because I told him over a text message that it was not what we had talked about. I need time, and now I am going to walk into a gym and people know that’s what I’m doing and I needed to build trust and find people.

“So, then he kept on doing that and kept on doing that and I’m still searching for a team and feeling all that pressure. Then he sent me a text message that said, ‘This bitch is effin’ us around,’ or something like that.

“So I sent a text message back and said, ‘I think that you sent that to the wrong person’ and he said, ‘I don’t think I did’ and that was the last conversation that we ever had over text message because I don’t think that was the kind of environment that I wanted to come back into. So I just cut all communication after that text.”

And thus died what would have been one of the biggest fights in UFC history – at the hands of an impatient Dana White. To White’s credit though, it appears he did realize he had been the one to “goof”, and Carano says when she ran into him at an event some time later, he apologized to Carano for his behavior.

“I remember seeing him when Mike Tyson and my dad were getting honored at a sports hall of fame in Las Vegas and he did come up to me and he genuinely apologized,” Carano said. “But yeah, I didn’t think that not even a million dollars – when people hold money over your head, which they have done since I was a little girl, it’s just never been a turn on for me. I don’t have a problem with authority, I just have a problem with abused authority. So that was the end of that conversation.”

But though the mended fences, that was the end of the Carano-to-the-UFC discussions. She says she’s often thought about going back to MMA but that ultimately she’s since realized that her future lays in acting and Hollywood, and she’s proud of the role she played in growing the sport, and women’s MMA, to where it is today.

“Now when I look back, I really am genuinely proud to have played that role,” Carano said. “And I did want to be the first woman in UFC. And when I watched that, it hurt in a way, but at the same time, look at my life now.

“So it was a dream that didn’t get to happen. But, I was able to open up doors for women to be able to walk into gyms and it could be easier. And I will always cherish that.”

Carano is currently starring in The Mandalorian the flagship series on Disney+ set in the Star Wars universe.


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FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


EXIT POLL


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