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Gina Joy Carano (born April 16, 1982) is an American actresstelevision personality, fitness model, and former mixed martial artist. Carano began her training with straight Muay Thai to competitive MMA where she had tenures in organizations such as Strikeforce and EliteXC and has been featured in ESPN The Magazine as well asMaxim. Her popularity with fans and audiences has helped her garner the title of being the "Face of Women's MMA"[1] and was ranked on the "Top Ten Influential Women of 2008" list on Yahoo![2]

She was formerly the third best 145 lb (66 kg) fighter in the world, according to the Unified Women's MMA Rankings.[3][4] On August 2009, Carano would also headlineStrikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg with Cristiane Santos, which marked the first time two women headlined a major MMA event.[5] As a competitive fighter, her standings consists of a 12–1–1 Muay Thai record and a 7–1 WMMA record.[6]

Outside of MMA, Carano also appeared as "Crush" on the revamped 2008 television series American Gladiators. Following her departure from MMA, Carano began a career in acting. Her debut breakout performance was in Steven Soderbergh's 2011 action-thriller film Haywire, which earned her a nomination for Best Actress in an Action Movie at the 18th Critics' Choice Awards. Carano would then star in the 2013 blockbuster film Fast & Furious 6 and in John Stockwell's In the Blood.

At the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con InternationalAvengelyne co-creator Rob Liefeld announced production for a big-screen adaptation of the fictional comic book was in development, in which Carano would star as the lead titular character.[7]

ContentsEdit

 [hide*1 Early life

Early life[edit]Edit

Carano was born in Dallas CountyTexas, the middle daughter of Dana Joy (née Cason) and Glenn Thomas Carano. She has two sisters.[8][9] Carano has said that she has a "small percentage" of Italian ancestry.[10] Her father played for the Dallas Cowboys as a backup quarterback from 1977–1983 and for the USFL Pittsburgh Maulersas a starter in 1984, their only year of operation.

She graduated from Trinity Christian High School in Las VegasNevada, where she led the girls basketball team to a state title. She also played volleyball and softball.[11]She attended the University of Nevada, Reno for a year and then University of Nevada, Las Vegas for three years, where she minored in psychology.[12][third-party source needed]

Mixed martial arts career[edit]Edit

Carano started her career in the sport of Muay Thai. Gina's ex-boyfriend Kevin Ross, a pro Muay Thai fighter, got her involved in Muay Thai.[13] After achieving a Muay Thai record of 12–1–1,[14] Carano received an offer from Jamie Levine to participate in the first-ever sanctioned female MMA bout in Nevada with World Extreme Fightingto fight Leiticia Pestova. She was invited to the World Pro Fighting show in Las Vegas to fight Rosi Sexton.[15] Carano won the fight by knocking out Sexton late in the second round.

Carano faced Elaina Maxwell at Strikeforce: Triple Threat on December 8, 2006. She won the fight via unanimous decision.[16] Carano proved critics wrong when she defeated Maxwell for the second time; the first victory coming in a Muay Thai bout. The fight was the first female fight in Strikeforce.

She fought on the February 10, 2007, Showtime EliteXC card, defeating Julie Kedzie via unanimous decision in what was called the "Fight of the Night."[17] The fight was the first televised female fight on Showtime.

Her scheduled bout against Jan Finney at the EliteXC/K-1 Dynamite!! USA event on June 2, 2007 was canceled due to illness. The Fight Network and other news outlets reported that she was rushed to the hospital via ambulance due to dehydration while attending a World Extreme Cagefighting event as a spectator.[18]

Carano fought on the September 15, 2007, Showtime EliteXC card, where she defeated Tonya Evinger via rear naked choke for her first career win by submission.[19] Carano impressed critics by holding her own on the ground before submitting Evinger late in the first round.

Carano defeated former HOOKnSHOOT Champion Kaitlin Young at EliteXC: Primetime on May 31, 2008.[20] A day before the fight, Carano failed to make weight for her fight after weighing in at 144.5 lb (65.5 kg). Although most MMA organizations set weight classes at 135 (bantamweight) and 145 (featherweight) pounds (61.2 and 65.8 kg, respectively), EliteXC opted to create a women's weight class at 140 pounds. [21]Carano agreed to forfeit 12.5% of her "show" purse to Young, and the fight remained on the card.[22]

Leading up to her fight against Kelly Kobold, there was much controversy over whether or not Gina would make weight for the fight, as she had fought only once in the past year and had failed to make weight. Gina assured critics that she would be able to make weight since she had hired a nutritionist to help with her dieting. At the weigh-in for the Kobold fight on October 3, 2008, Gina Carano weighed in at 142.75 pounds on her first attempt.[23] After removing her sports bra, a towel-covered Carano weighed in a second time at 142.5 pounds.[24] On her third attempt, without any clothes on, Carano weighed 141 pounds[25] and successfully made weight.

Early on, Kobold was intent on pressing Carano in the clinch, while working for the takedown throughout the fight. Kobold managed a takedown in the second round, but the round ended before she could take meaningful advantage of it. Carano worked her opportunities by hitting Kobold at every turn whenever the fighters separated, while opening a huge gash on the inside of her opponent's eyebrow in the first round.[26]At the end of the third round, Carano looked to finish the fight as she unloaded a head kick that landed flush on Kobold's chin, but Kobold remained on her feet and the bout came to a close.[27]

Carano won by unanimous decision (29–28, 30–27, 30–27)[28] and remained undefeated.[citation needed]

Strikeforce Women's Lightweight Championship bout[edit]Edit

After Strikeforce purchased the assets of ProElite, Carano, along with other fighters within the defunct promotion, became contractually linked with Strikeforce after many months of a stalemate regarding their free agent status.[29]

It was announced at Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields that Carano's fight against Cristiane Justino would take place on August 15, 2009, at Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg. Strikeforce created their first Women's Championship for the bout.

Though the 145-pound division is most commonly referred to as featherweight, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker stated that the title would be known as the Strikeforce Women's Lightweight Championship.[30] The title was later renamed the Strikeforce Women's Middleweight Championship.[31]

Carano lost the fight against Justino by TKO at 4:59 in the first round.[32]

Aftermath[edit]Edit

Following her loss to Justino, Carano was out of action for the remainder of 2009 and the entirety of 2010. In November 2010, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker stated he was hopeful that she would return in 2011.[33]Carano's return was formally announced in February 2011.[34]

Strikeforce announced at its April 9, 2011, event in San Diego that Carano would make her return on June 18 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, during the Overeem vs. Werdum Strikeforce event. Her opponent would have been Sarah D'Alelio. This bout would have been held by Zuffa, who have been detractors of women's MMA in the past. Critics assert that the reason for the turnaround is Carano's marketability.[35] [36] Initially Strikeforce announced Carano failed her pre-fight medical examination due to an unknown issue and the fight was pulled from the card.[37] Later, it became public that Carano was medically cleared by the Athletic Commission but was removed from the card for unknown reasons. Her return date is unknown. Carano has not fought since August 2009 and has not been scheduled for any upcoming events.[38] Gina is still under contract with the UFC through her old Strikeforce contract and has four fights remaining on that contract.[39]

Television and film career[edit]Edit

Carano starred in the cult film Ring Girls.[40] Based on true events, Ring Girls is a fast-paced story about five American women from Las Vegas who take on the ultimate challenge of fighting the best Muay Thai fighters in the world.[41]

Along with Lisa King, Carano served as a mentor to aspiring fighters in the Oxygen reality series Fight Girls. She appeared as "Crush" on the NBC show American Gladiators, in which she starred in the workout video of the show along with Monica Carlson (Jet), Jennifer Widerstrom (Phoenix), Michael O'Hearn (Titan), Tanoai Reed (Toa) and Don "Hollywood" Yates (Wolf). The DVD was released on December 16, 2008. She is featured in the Michael Jai White film Blood and Bone.[42]

She has appeared in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 as Natasha,[43] a purchasable hero unit, portraying the Soviet sniper/commando in various cutscenes.

In September 2009, Carano landed the leading role in the spy thriller movie Haywire (2011), directed by Steven Soderbergh.[44][45][46] Christy Lemire of The Associated Press stated: "[Carano's] dialogue delivery may seem a bit stiff — and she has acknowledged that Soderbergh made some tweaks to her voice in post-production — but she has tremendous presence: an intriguing mix of muscular power and eye-catching femininity".[47]

In February 2012, Carano was cast in In the Blood, an action thriller being directed by John Stockwell (Into the BlueBlue Crush). The film has been described as being in the vein of TakenIn the Blood is set in motion when a husband disappears while vacationing in the Caribbean with his wife, played by Carano. The grieving wife passionately and recklessly pursues the men whom she believes kidnapped and killed him. Stockwell stated, "This role will showcase not only Gina’s fighting skills, but also her acting abilities as her character struggles to [rein] in her violent past".[48]

Carano co-starred in Fast & Furious 6 (2013), as a member of Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Special Agent Luke Hobbs' (Dwayne Johnson) team.[49]

In September 2012, Carano signed on as the lead in an all-female ensemble action film described as the female version of The Expendables. Producer Adi Shankar said, "I don't know how I'm supposed to make a movie that is supposed to be the female version of The Expendables without Gina Carano in it. It would be like making Twix without caramel or Jamba Juice without jamba".[50]

In July 2013, Carano and comic book creator Rob Liefeld announced they were working on a big-screen adaptation of Liefied's Avengelyne in which Carano would star as a fallen angel, who is sent to Earth with a mission to find and protect 'the one', a person who holds the key to saving mankind from demons and other monsters.[51]

Carano appeared in the Almost Human episode "Unbound", where she played the part of an XRN combat android named Danica.

Accolades[edit]Edit

She was profiled in a feature story for the ESPN series E:60. She was voted "Hottest Woman In America" by Big Biz Magazine in the Spring 2008 issue[52] On May 13, 2008, "Gina Carano" was the fastest-rising search on Google and third most searched person on Yahoo!.[8][53]

She was ranked as #5 on the "Top Ten Influential Women of 2008" list on Yahoo![2]

In May 2009, it was announced that Carano was ranked #16 in Maxim's Hot 100 list. In April 2012, she became the first recipient of the Chuck Norris (Best Female Action Star) Award, given by ActionFest to the female action star of the year.[54]

She is one of the cover athletes along with Serena Williams[55] for the October 19, 2009 edition of ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue.

She was a nominee for the 2013 Critics Choice Awards for best actress in an action movie for Haywire.[56]

She was a top 10 most searched athlete on Yahoo! in 2013.[57]

Mixed martial arts record[edit]Edit

Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 7-1 Cristiane Justino TKO (punches) Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg August 15, 2009 1 4:59 San Jose, California, United States For the Women's Featherweight Championship
Win 7–0 Kelly Kobold Decision (unanimous) EliteXC: Heat October 4, 2008 3 3:00 Sunrise, Florida, United States
Win 6–0 Kaitlin Young TKO (doctor stoppage) EliteXC: Primetime May 31, 2008 2 3:00 Newark, New Jersey, United States 144 lb Catchweight
Win 5–0 Tonya Evinger Submission (rear naked choke) EliteXC: Uprising September 15, 2007 1 2:53 Oahu, Hawaii, United States 141 lb
Win 4–0 Julie Kedzie Decision (unanimous) EliteXC: Destiny February 10, 2007 3 3:00 SouthavenMississippi, United States EliteXC Debut, 141 lb
Win 3–0 Elaina Maxwell Decision (unanimous) Strikeforce: Triple Threat December 8, 2006 3 2:00 San Jose, California, United States Strikeforce Debut, 150 lb bout
Win 2–0 Rosi Sexton KO (punch) World Pro Fighting Championships 1 September 15, 2006 2 4:55 Las VegasNevada, United States 138 lb Catchweight
Win 1–0 Leiticia Pestova KO (punches and elbows) World Extreme Fighting June 10, 2006 1 0:38 Las VegasNevada, United States Fought at 135 lbs

Filmography[edit]Edit

Year Title Role Notes
2007 Fight Girls Mentor TV series, regular
2008 Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 Natasha Volkova (voice) Video game
2009 Blood and Bone Verett
2011 Haywire Mallory Kane
2013 Fast & Furious 6 Riley Hicks
2013 In the Blood Ava
2014 Almost Human XRN "Danica" TV series, 1 episode
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