Mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano cut a striking figure during her swift rise to the top of her profession, beginning in 2006. Ranked No. 3 in her weight class worldwide, Carano's model-worthy fe...
Dallas County, Texas, USA
|Appeared as a consultant on the Oxygen Networks' reality series "Fight Girls"|
|Rose up the ranks in female MMA competitions by knocking out seasoned competitors such as Rosi Sexton and Elaina Maxwell|
|Introduced to mixed martial arts (MMA) by Muay Thai kickboxer and then-boyfriend Kevin Ross|
|Cast as "Crush," one of the professional combatants on the short-lived revival of the popular "American Gladiators" (NBC)|
|Joined an all-star cast including Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Bill Paxton and Antonio Banderas in the action thriller "Haywire," directed by Steven Soderbergh|
|Featured in the film "Ring Girls," about a quintet of women Muay Thai fighters|
|Made feature film debut in low-budget action film "Blood and Bone"|
Born Gina Joy Carano in Dallas County, TX on April 16, 1982, she was the daughter of former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Glenn Carano and his wife, Dana. A natural athlete throughout her school years, with a state title in basketball for Las Vegas' Trinity High School to her credit, Carano also learned at an early age to defend herself in fights, whether in school or on the court. Forced to turn down college scholarships in basketball and softball in order to remain close to home and help her sister through personal difficulties, she settled into a psychology major at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, but found herself stifled without a physical outlet. Her then-boyfriend, top-rated Muay Thai kickboxer Kevin Ross, introduced her to the intensely physical combat sport, which soon became her abiding passion.
Carano soon began pursuing a professional career in Muay Thai. As she rose up the ranks in female mixed martial arts (MMA) competitions, knocking out such seasoned competitors as Rosi Sexton in 2005 and Elaina Maxwell (whom she twice defeated in 2006), her striking looks earned the attention of various media organizations. In 2005, she was featured in the film "Ring Girls," about a quintet of women Muay Thai fighters. The following year, Carano served as a consultant on the Oxygen Networks' reality series "Fight Girls" (2006). She soon returned to MMA with a unanimous decision win in the third round against Julie Kedzie in 2007 and a grueling bout against Tonya Evinger that same year.
The following year proved to be one of Carano's most challenging ones, thanks to controversial issues regarding her weight class. Prior to her May 2008 bout against Kaitlin Young, she failed to meet a newly established weight class by the fight's promoter, EliteXC, despite the fact that she met the requirements for her weight set by most other MMA groups. Carano was forced to forfeit 12.5 percent of her payment for the fight, which she eventually won in the second round. She nearly faced the same situation prior to her fight with Kelly Kobold in October of that year, and drew headlines for weighing in while totally naked, which removed the extra half-pound she needed to qualify. The match proved to be one of her most brutal, with both fighters taking tremendous abuse during their three-round brawl. Eventually, Carano was named the winner by unanimous decision.
Carano spent several months in 2008 on television as "Crush," one of the combatants on the short-lived revival of the popular "American Gladiators" (NBC,), but the show's cancellation prior to its second season brought her tenure there to an end. She also filmed scenes for the video game "Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3" as a Soviet sniper. In 2009, Carano suffered the first loss of her professional career from a first-round knockout by Brazilian fighter Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos. While recuperating from the fight, she was approached by director Steven Soderbergh about starring in an action feature titled "Knockout," about a special operative agent seeking revenge for a double cross that left her family in danger.
Filming on "Knockout" and another low-budget action film called "Blood and Bone" (2009) took up much of Carano's time during late 2009 and 2010, but she announced her return to MMA in a much-publicized bout against Sarah D'Aiello in June 2011. However, the bout was soon canceled for unknown reasons, sparking rumors that Carano had failed her pre-fight medical examination, possibly due to pregnancy. No definitive answers were ever given for the cancellation, and Carano remained absent from the ring in the months that followed, concentrating instead on publicity for the Soderbergh film, which had been retitled "Haywire," harking an all-star cast including Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Bill Paxton and Antonio Banderas. Controversy surfaced again when gossip sites began circulating a rumor that the film's producers had electronically altered or re-dubbed her speaking voice, which Carano ultimately confirmed.
By Paul Gaita
From classic movie palaces to the state-of-the-art IMAX screens.