Sep 7, 2009 - by Steve Gerweck
Real name: Gina Joy Carano
Weight: 147 lbs.
Date of birth: April 16, 1982
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Trained by: Master Toddy (Muay Thai);
Scott Bieri (jiu-jitsu); Randy & Kim Couture (MMA)
Carano is a Muay Thai specialist who got her start fighting out of the famed Master Toddy Gym in Las Vegas, NV. Under Master Toddy, Gina competed multiple times internationally, garnishing a 12-1-1 Professional Muay Thai Kickboxing record.
Carano started in MMA in 2006 and became the first woman, along with Leiticia Pestova to have a NSAC (Nevada State Athletic Commission) sanctioned bout, which Gina won. After defeating Pestova and then Rosi Sexton a few months later, Carano became the first woman, along with Elaina Maxwell, to compete for Strikeforce MMA in December 2006 — a bout in which Gina won.
Carano’s national profile exploded following her impressive debut for EliteXC during the promotion’s inaugural show on February 10, 2007, a bout in which she won against Julie Kedzie via unanimous decision. Carano and Kedzie made history in a few ways that night. First, they competed in the premiere of live MMA on premium television – SHOWTIME. Second, they were the first women to fight in a nationally televised MMA event; in what many have called the “fight of the night” for that historic evening.
She returned to the cage in September 2007 at EliteXC’s “Uprising” event in Honolulu on SHOWTIME, where she scored the first-ever submission victory of her young career when she forced Tonya Evinger to tap out to a rear naked choke at 2:53 of round 1.
Several months after the win over Evinger, Carano was cast as one of the featured female gladiators for NBC’s re-make of the “American Gladiators” television show. The visibility that came with being a part of a hit prime-time network show only served to make Carano an even bigger star. Her roles with AG and EliteXC puts her in the unique position of being a feature player on primetime network TV on both NBC and CBS.
Many mainstream media opportunities have resulted from her success in MMA including Warrior Nation (MSNBC); Fight Girls (Oxygen Network); she’s appeared on NBC’s TODAY show; has been featured by Maxim Magazine; and is expected to be in upcoming issues of ESPN The Magazine (May 21, 2008) and Muscle and Fitness (June 2008).
As a fighter, Carano’s striking skills have so far surpassed every mixed martial artist she has faced and now training under Randy Couture at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, she’s growing increasingly adept in the submission/ground game with improving takedown defense.
Defeated Julie Kedzie by unanimous decision in the debut of EliteXC (Feb. 10, 2007 on SHOWTIME) in the first woman’s MMA bout ever televised nationally in the U.S.; and the first women’s bout in which Vegas booked odds on.
Participated in the first-ever NSAC (Nevada State Athletic Commission) sanctioned women’s bout, in June’06 against Leiticia Pestova.
Was the first ever Strikeforce MMA female bout, along with Elaina Maxwell, in Dec. 2006.
Carano is also a Professional Muay Thai Fighter with a record of 12-1-1
Gina became the first American female fighter to win a Muay Thai Kickboxing Championship in Thailand.
10/04/2008 in Sunrise, FL, def. Kelly Kobald via Unanimous Decision.
5/31/2008 in Newark, NJ, def. Kaitlin Young by TKO (doctor stoppage) between the second and third rounds. Young was examined by the doctor after the end of the second round, who called for the fight to end.
9/15/2007 in Honolulu, def. Tonya Evinger via rear naked choke submission at 2:53 of round 1. Evinger just seemed out of place in the cage and Carano was able to get the fight to the ground. She obtained an advantageous position and recorded the first-ever submission victory of her career.
2/10/2007 in Southaven, Miss., (DeSoto Civic Center) def. Julie Kedzie by UD (3 rds). Carano used superior striking and aggressive nature to control the match. Kedzie showed tremendous heart and determination in withstanding Carano’s repeated onslaughts. The capacity crowd at the Civic Center gave a standing-O for one of the best bouts, regardless of gender, on the 10-fight card.
6/10/2006 in Las Vegas, NV def. Leiticia Pestova by TKO at :39 of Round 1 when Pestova suffered a separated shoulder. Leiticia shot in quickly on Carano and after a brief scramble Carano ended up on top, ground and pounding on Pestova until Leiticia suffered a separated shoulder and the referee stopped the bout.
9/15/2006 in Las Vegas, NV def. Rosi Sexton by TKO at 4:55 of Round 2 when the referee stopped the bout due to Sexton’s inability to defend herself. Throughout the two rounds both Carano and Sexton traded punches. Carano clearly got the better of the exchanges. With five seconds left in the bout Carano floored Sexton with a flurry and the referee stepped in to call a halt to the bout.
12/8/2006 in San Jose, CA def. Elaina Maxwell by Unanimous Decision after Round 3. Throughout all three rounds the two women exchanged punches with Gina getting the better of the two. Elaina was able to take down Carano throughout the fight; however once they went to the ground Gina was able to quickly escape back to her feet. In Round 3 Maxwell had Gina in a triangle choke, when the two rolled over – with Elaina on top and Gina on the bottom – Carano escaped from underneath Maxwell, mounted Elaina and finished the round with ground ‘n pound, leading to a Unanimous Decision victory.