According to a July 12 report from FOX Sports, UFC President Dana White made it public that he'll be signing former Strikeforce superstar, Gina Carano, sometime next week. The deal had been rumored for months, but it looks like it's going to become official in the days ahead. When rumors swirled of Carano's return to MMA back in April, many fight fans wrote it off as nothing more than an April Fools' Day joke.
However, her return to the cage appears likely to become a reality in the near future, with White heading to Los Angeles next week to bang out a deal. Carano, 32, hasn't competed inside the cage since 2009, but she remained a major celebrity due to her appearance in 2011's action thriller, Haywire. She has also appeared in a handful of other Hollywood flicks.
Even though she has had some success as an action star, Carano still has a passion for MMA. How will Carano's new UFC deal work out? In all likelihood, Carano is going to sign a one-fight deal, and the bout she accepts is going to be for the bantamweight title. White said Carano will definitely get an immediate title shot, mostly due to her past success in Strikeforce. Does she deserve it? Probably not.
After not fighting in five years, Carano isn't even considered a top 10 contender in the women's 135-pound division. However, the UFC can't risk giving her a tune-up fight and having her lose or look bad in it. That would take all the steam out of a potential fight with Rousey. Instead of worrying about legitimate rankings to determine a title shot, the UFC is thinking about all the casual fans who will be willing to pay to see Carano fight Rousey. Would the fight make a mockery of women's MMA? Not necessarily.
Rousey has already disposed of most of the top contenders at bantamweight, so the UFC might as well throw Carano at her. It's a win-win for all parties involved. Carano will get a huge payday, Rousey will likely pick up another easy win and the UFC will sell a ton of pay-per-views. Who knows? Maybe Carano could even pull off a historic upset. No matter who wins, the UFC has a marketable champion on its side. If she Carano loses, its no sweat off her back. She could go back to doing movies and would be just fine.
With Carano vs. Rousey looking very likely to become official, one of the final questions to answer is exactly which card should feature this fight. Here's the thing: UFC 100 was one of the most historic events in MMA history, and UFC 200 is likely to have the same type of feel to it. Carano vs. Rousey would be absolutely perfect for that event, since the UFC could slot it as the co-main.
Perhaps the promotion could do a welterweight or light heavyweight title fight in the main event, which would take some of the pressure off Rousey vs. Carano. The fight could very well be a dud, since Rousey will be so heavily favored. That said, the UFC would be smart to feature it as a co-main bout. UFC 200, which is projected to be less than 24 months away, will probably be stacked with an explosive main card.
With the UFC holding an average of 13 pay-per-view events per year, UFC 200 could go down in the middle of 2016. At that point, Rousey will be just 29 years old and Carano will be 34. Hyping the fight for almost two years would give Carano enough time to get back into better fighting shape, and also to convince fight fans that she's committed to intense MMA training. It would also give Rousey enough time to heal up her broken hand and injured knees.