Gina Joy Carano (born April 16, 1982) is an American actress, television personality, fitness model, and former mixed martial artist.
Carano began her training with straight Muay Thai to competitive MMA, where she competed in Strikeforce and EliteXC. She was featured in ESPN The Magazine as well as Maxim.
Her popularity led to her being called the “face of women’s MMA” (although Carano herself rejected the title) and was ranked 5th on a list of the “Top 10 Influential Women” of 2008.
In August 2009, Carano fought Cris Cyborg in Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg, the first time two women headlined a major MMA event; Cyborg won. Carano compiled a competitive record of 12–1–1 in Muay Thai and a 7–1 in women’s MMA.
Carano was born in Dallas, Texas, the daughter of Dana Joy (née Cason) and professional football player Glenn Carano. She has two sisters, one older and one younger.
She has said that she has a small amount of Italian ancestry. She was raised by her mother after her parents divorced. Mixed martial arts career.
Carano started her career in the sport of Muay Thai. Her then-boyfriend Kevin Ross, a pro Muay Thai fighter, got her involved. After achieving a Muay Thai record of 12–1–1, Carano received an offer from Jamie Levine to participate in the first-ever sanctioned female MMA bout in Nevada with World Extreme Fighting to fight Leiticia Pestova.
She was invited to the World Pro Fighting show in Las Vegas to fight Rosi Sexton. Carano won the fight by knocking out Sexton late in the second round.
Strikeforce Women’s Lightweight Championship
After Strikeforce purchased the assets of ProElite, Carano, along with other fighters within the defunct promotion, became contractually linked with Strikeforce after many months of a stalemate regarding their free agent status.
It was announced at Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields that Carano’s fight against Cris Cyborg would take place on August 15, 2009, at Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg.Strikeforce created their first Women’s Championship for the bout.
Television and film career
Carano starred in the 2006 cult film Ring Girls. Based on true events, Ring Girls is a fast-paced story about five American women from Las Vegas who take on the ultimate challenge of fighting the best Muay Thai fighters in the world.
Along with Lisa King, Carano served as a mentor to aspiring fighters in the 2007 Oxygen reality series Fight Girls. She appeared as “Crush” on the NBC show American Gladiators, in which she starred in the workout video of the show along with Monica Carlson (Jet), Jennifer Widerstrom (Phoenix), Michael O’Hearn (Titan), Tanoai Reed (Toa) and Don “Hollywood” Yates (Wolf). The DVD was released on December 16, 2008.
She was profiled in a feature story for the ESPN series E:60. She was voted “Hottest Woman In America” by Big Biz Magazine in the Spring 2008 issue On May 13, 2008, “Gina Carano” was the fastest-rising search on Google and third-most-searched person on Yahoo!. She was also ranked as no. 5 on the “Top Ten Influential Women of 2008” list on Yahoo!