Women’s mixed-martial-arts pioneer, Gina ‘Conviction’ Carano has revealed in an interview with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani on The Helwani Show, how the UFC made her an ultimately fruitless offer of $1 million, to face then bantamweight champion, ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey in 2014. The popular MMA fighter turned actor, last competed professionally in 2009, and along with Rousey, and Brazilian legend Cris Cyborg, are regarded as some of the most important figures in the early years of female involvement in the sport.
The Texas native, who primarily competed around the featherweight limit of 145-pounds, holds some notable victories over the likes of Rosi Sexton, Julie Kedzie, Tonya Evinger and Kaitlin Young during her three year career, and only dropped one professional loss, to the aforementioned Cyborg in the inaugural Strikeforce featherweight title bout, despite some early success in the grappling exchanges. Carano, who turns 38-years-old in April, has recently gone on to star in Hollywood blockbusters, Deadpool, and Fast & Furious 6. In a highly-anticipated sit down with the aforementioned Helwani, Carano explained how the UFC and Dana White approached her about the possibility of meeting with Ronda Rousey in 2014.
“When Ronda Rousey became popular, I remember they finally (the UFC) called for a meeting and I walked in and they were in this restaurant and there were two big, muscly guys at the table in the middle of Hollywood,” Carano said. “I remember thinking, `’what took you guys so long’. They were like ‘ok, we’d love to offer you a million dollars to have that (Rousey) fight’. I was like, ‘well that sounds great, I’m going to need you to do me a favor then, because I’ve been acting now and I’m not active in any gym so you’re going to have to give me some time to build a team, and go join a team, which is not an easy thing as I’m sure all the fighters know.’ You know, you have to find a team, or build one that’s going to be into what you’re doing, and if tou haven’t actively been apart of anything, you can walk in as Gina Carano or whoever, and you still have to find the people that are really going to be there for you and that takes time. So I told him (Dana White), you gotta just be able to sit on this (fight offer) for six months, Dana (White). You can’t say anything (about the offer) and let me get situated with that in mind because that sounds great and I’d love to do it.”
Carano goes on to speak of her excitement of not only the chance to face Ronda Rousey, but to return to active competition for the first time in five years.
“So it was a nice dinner and we all left positive, and I left stoked. I was like, ‘this makes sense, this is my moment to come and be back in there (the sport)’. And then, the next day, Dana was out there talking about me, talking about my name and telling the people that he was going to sign me, and I don’t even have a team yet. I was like, ‘that’s not what we discussed, you were supposed to give me at least six months to kind of like, find a team’. And then he started trying to put on the pressure from the media, and it was really kinda a bummer because I told him over text message, that’s not what we talked about. I need time, now I’m going to walk into the gym and people know that’s what I’m doing, I need to build trust and I need to find people.
The Dallas favorite also told of a text message exchange between herself and Dana White which ultimately seems to have scuppered the possible pairing.
So, then he kept on doing that (pressuring the fight) still I’m searching for a team, and feeling all that pressure. Then he sent me a text message that said, ‘this b**ch isn’t, effing us around’ or something like that. I sent a text message back, I said ‘I think you sent that to the wrong person’ and he said, ‘I don’t think I did’ and that was the last conversation we had over text message, because I don’t think that was the kind of environment I wanted to come back into. And so, I just cut all communication after that text. Then I remember seeing him (Dana White) when Mike Tyson and my dad were getting honoured at a sports Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, and he did come over and he genuinely apologized. I just don’t that even a million dollars you shouldn’t (sic), when people hold money over your head, which they have done since I was a little girl, it’s just never been a turn on for me. If it alignes (sic), I don’t have a problem with authority, I just have a problem with abused authority. So that was the end of that conversation.