Gina Carano is glitzy, glamorous and has a high casual appeal to the everyday person. She is a recognizable name, and her face has been thrown on movie posters. But can we really describe her as an immediate contender to Ronda Rousey’s UFC women’s bantamweight title?

With the big news of the UFC’s signing of Holly Holm, there has been talk of Carano soon following in Holm’s footsteps. It’s a no-brainer from a pure business sense, after all. Carano is a marketable fighter, and in an age where pay-per-view numbers have slid from the heyday of Brock Lesnar, Carano’s appeal and star power would help rectify those numbers.

There isn’t a question of the economic benefits of having Carano in a title fight. The 32-year-old movie star/fighter is a significant draw, and she was a part of the fight that started the massive trend toward women’s MMA.

Carano is a more marketable fighter than Holm despite Holm’s achievements outside of MMA. In women’s boxing, Holm has held countless belts and she ranks as one of the best female boxers in the world, if not the very best. However, comparing Carano to Holm in terms of who is better suited for an immediate title shot requires us to compare merit to ticket sales.

Holm’s MMA career has been wildly successful thus far. Despite a lack of high-quality competition, Holm’s undefeated record is still a sticking point. Furthermore, there’s her stellar boxing resume. Her reputation as one of the world’s best female boxers makes her a candidate to face Rousey, and it also provides a marketing angle for the UFC to use when selling the fight. Rousey has made huge strides in her striking game. She has gone from a fighter who didn’t pose a threat in the stand-up to a fighter who can now stand, trade and finish opponents with her fists. But can she do it against one of the world’s best strikers?

Carano hasn’t fought since losing to Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino in 2009. To say it has been a long time would be an understatement. That doesn’t even take into consideration how uncompetitive the fight was—Justino finished Carano with only a second to go in the first round. Carano shouldn’t get an immediate title shot, based solely on the fact she hasn’t fought in the last five years. Women’s MMA has changed drastically since that Carano’s fight with Justino. Carano’s star power is the only marketing angle the UFC has in pitting her against Rousey. There certainly wouldn’t be a burning question surrounding whether Carano would be the first to beat Rousey.

This isn’t the same game, and Carano wouldn’t even be fighting at her old weight of 145 pounds. She would have to go down a weight class and fight at bantamweight, something she hasn’t done since her first fight in 2006. It isn’t 2009 anymore. Carano isn’t the same 7-0 fighter who was the face of women’s MMA and was part of a heavily hyped fight with Cyborg. Five years is a long time to be out of a sport.

Of these two star fighters, Holm is more deserving of an immediate title shot, but she isn’t ready for it either. Holm still needs to fight someone who will try to take her down and will employ a grappling-heavy strategy to defeat her. Much like Rousey didn’t display her striking in her first handful of fights, Holm hasn’t been forced to display her ground game. She has to pass that test before she proves truly worthy of challenging Rousey for the belt.

Holm has work she needs to do before she can get that title shot, and Carano needs to fight at least once before she can be considered a contender. So, you want to ask who deserves an immediate title shot, Holm or Carano? Well, the answer is simple…

Neither one.

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.

  • Holly Holm doesn’t want a title shot right now, she’s already said that. I’m a little confused on Carano’s situation though. When she loses this fight with Rousey, what does she do next? Retire again? I have a tough time believing Gina is going to sign on for fighting in the middle of the pack after losing her first fight. Do we really think she’ll have any interest in fighting Liz Carmouche on the opening fight of PPV card? On the other hand, if she fights Miesha Tate in her first fight and loses (They’re actually the same fighter pretty much), what then? I think the UFC is in a no-win situation with Gina. She hasn’t fought in five years, she got her butt kicked when she last was in the ring, and if she can’t contend will she even have interest?
    Holm is different in that she will lose at some point and keep fighting and make a career of this. When Cyborg comes in she’ll obviously fight Rousey first. If Cyborg loses she’ll keep fighting because this is her life. If Rousey loses, it will be interesting to see if she has the fire to fight without a title on the line against someone else.
    And by the way to the author of this… you said Rousey has good standup and can finish with her hands. When did that happen? She had a kick stoppage, and a ground and pound.

  • Thomas Joseph

    The only person who can beat Rousey is Rousey. Boredom or disinterest can be her undoing, but not a superior fighter, at least none of those available. Gina Carano is more of an extremely gifted natural athlete than an MMA fighter on Rousey’s level. That being said, Trex, Gina is 7-0 against WOMEN. Her last fight was against a chemical freak show that most likely pees standing up. Even with the roids though, Rousey will crush cyborg. I just hope she gets to it before she’s more interested in Hollywood…and bored with MMA.