Gina Carano explains why fight with Ronda Rousey never happened in UFC, confident she would have won

Women didn’t start fighting in the UFC until 2013 when Ronda Rousey made her debut against Liz Carmouche in a paradigm shift for the promotion after Dana White famously declared that females would never compete in his organization.

Despite that infamous proclamation, Gina Carano claims that White actually approached her years earlier with interest in having her join the UFC roster when she was undoubtedly the most famous women’s fighter on the planet. At that time, Carano was competing in Strikeforce and gearing up for a showdown with Cris Cyborg, which ultimately served as her final appearance in MMA back in 2009.

“Me and Dana [White] had a conversation right before I fought Cyborg, Dana and Lorenzo Fertitta had me into their office and basically they were like ‘we’d like you to come over and be our company’s first female fighter,’” Carano revealed on the PBD podcast. “I just couldn’t do that because I had my promises and my contract to Strikeforce.”

Following her loss to Cyborg, Carano ended up transitioning into acting on a full-time basis, which included a lead role in the film Haywire directed by Academy Award winner Steven Soderbergh. Carano never officially retired and she says that conversations eventually heated up again for her to join the UFC roster after Rousey had become one of the faces of the organization.

Back in 2014, Carano expressed interest in making a comeback and that led to meetings with White about potentially signing for a fight against Rousey. White later claimed that Carano was “the hardest human being we’ve ever dealt with” and any hopes for a deal with the UFC essentially died on the vine.

Carano didn’t address the apparent difficulties she had striking a deal with the UFC, but she says what doomed her potential fight with Rousey really came down to White’s inability to keep quiet about the matchup as she attempted to get back in shape for a fight.

“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 built 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 rebuilt 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.”

Whatever hope remained to book the fight effectively expired after Carano started getting more and more offers in Hollywood, which included a role in the smash-hit film Deadpool where she co-starred alongside Ryan Reynolds in the comic book adaptation.

“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 years I’ve just been passionate about trying to get back into that.”

Obviously, the fight with Rousey never happened but Carano still feels confident she would have vanquished the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion if given the chance.

“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 scrambly.

“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.”

As confident as she would have been against Rousey in a fight, Carano still holds the UFC Hall of Famer in very high regard. Rousey often touted Carano as an inspiration for her entry into MMA and that’s something the now 41-year-old actor never forgot.

“Ronda has just been such a respectful [person], she was such a little s*** talker throughout her career, but the one person she didn’t really s*** 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.”