Gina Carano is currently the most well known female face in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), 24-year old Gina , a former psychology student at the University of Nevada, Reno, is nothing less than 140 pounds of pure dynamite. Considered to be one of the fastest rising stars in the MMA, Gina started training in her specialty Muay Thai Boxing just three years ago and fought her first Muay Thai match within 6 months of stepping into the training ring. After racking up an impressive Muay Thai record of 12-1-1, Carano received an offer to participate in the first ever female sanctioned MMA bout in Nevada. Just a short seven months later, her MMA record is now 4-0 after receiving a unanimous decision over Julie Kedzie in the first women’s MMA for Elite Extreme Combat in Southaven, Mississippi on February 10th.
Gina’s meteoric rise has a rather incongruous beginning. A freshman at the University of Nevada, Carano, weighing 175 pounds, dropped by Master Toddy’s Muay Thai Academy to watch her boyfriend at the time as he finished up a martial arts training session. A few minutes later, Toddy’s assistant, Master Chan, walked up to her and told her that she was overweight and needed to join the club. That comment proved to be the only inspiration she needed and it’s been nonstop ever since. A natural athlete, Carano began losing weight almost immediately and stepped in the ring as a competitor a short time later.
Gina’s father, Glenn Carano played for the Dallas Cowboys as a backup quarterback from 1977-1983 and for the USFL Pittsburg Maulers in 1984. A member of the Nevada State Athletic Commission for 5 years, Gina’s father was instrumental in bringing the UFC to Nevada in 2001. According to Gina, however, her interest in boxing came after her father had gotten out of the industry. A middle child, Gina has two sisters and has spent 15 of her 24 years living in Nevada. She also owns two pit bulls whom she considers her “children”, Layla and Gotti. Gina graduated from Trinity Christian High School in Las Vegas where she played volleyball, basketball and softball. Although Gina has put her education at the University of Nevada on hold for the present, she has every intention of returning to complete her degree. For now, however, her attention is focused squarely on becoming the first woman to successfully represent her gender in a very male dominated sport.
It was Carano’s appearance on ESPN’s “I’ll Do Anything.”, however, that really got the ball rolling and introduced her to the people who would eventually film “Ring Girls” and “Fight Girls”. Gina appeared in an independent film titled “Ring Girls” which chronicled the fights of Gina and four other women trained by Master Toddy. During the film, Gina made her third visit to Thailand. “Ring Girls” evolved into “Fight Girls”, a reality show that debuted on the Oxygen channel and gave 7 girls the opportunity to compete against each other to win one of three chances to fight in Thailand. The second season of “Fight Girls” started filming in March. Although Gina did not compete on the show, she helped Master Toddy train the competitors and choose the winners. Ring Girls is not yet available in the United States, it has played overseas.
On January 23rd, Gina was once more on the screen for the debut of “Warrior Nation” on MSNBC. This episode chronicled Carano’s journey with Elaina Maxwell to their showdown fight on Strikeforce. Gina’s next EliteXC fight is tentatively scheduled for June 9th, 2007, however, her opponent has not been announced.