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The Non MMA Fan’s Guide to Gina Carano

(Photo via Zimbio. And yes, this is another rip-off of a much-better article. Deal with it.)

By Ben Goldstein

Tomorrow marks the long-delayed theatrical release of Haywire, a movie we’ve been huffing and puffing about since 2009. Obviously, the only reason we care about this film is because of its lead actress, Gina Carano. If you’re a regular reader of — or any MMA site for that matter — you’re already fully aware of who Gina Carano is. But maybe you’re here by accident, or because you found one of our articles while looking for information on the movie. (And if that’s the case, we welcome you. Some of our most loyal readers came to us through random late-night searches for “How do I get traps like Tom Hardy in Warrior?“)

At any rate, you may be wondering, “Who is this mysterious brunette with the gravelly voice? And why haven’t I heard of her before?” Great questions, my new friend. Let’s run it down…

Who is Gina Carano?
Gina Carano is a Muay Thai kickboxer turned MMA fighter turned actress. She also did a stint as an American Gladiator in 2008, where she was feared for her brutality towards old people. And now she’s starring in an action flick called Haywire, in which she plays Mallory Kane, a super-spy betrayed by her own team. The movie hits theaters on Friday.

Has she been in other movies before this one?
Technically, yes. In 2009, she appeared in a low-budget street-fighting movie called Blood and Bone, along with Michael Jai White, Kimbo Slice, and Bob Sapp. Other than that, Gina’s entertainment resume is limited to video games, documentariesreality shows, and magazine covers.

So how did an athlete with virtually zero movie experience get cast in the lead role of a prominent action movie?
You can credit Haywire‘s director, Steven Soderbergh, who discovered Gina while flipping through the channels one day and seeing one of her fights: “I see Gina coming out. She’s got the cornrows; she’s got the warrior affect. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s interesting.’ She destroyed this woman in a cage, and I just hadn’t seen anything like this before. I kinda filed it away. I just thought it she was a fascinating combination of elements.”

Then, Soderbergh got fired from the film Moneyball, and Gina got TKO’d in a Strikeforce title fight, and suddenly both of them had some free time on their hands. Soderbergh reached out, and things progressed fairly quickly from there. But Steven Soderbergh’s weird like that. He had previously cast Sasha Grey as the lead actress in his 2009 film The Girlfriend Experience, even though all of Grey’s previous film roles involved…well, Google her if you really want to know.

Was Gina a good fighter in her prime?
Definitely. She went 12-1-1 as a Muay Thai kickboxer, then won her first seven MMA fights against legitimate opponents like Rosi Sexton, Tonya Evinger, and Kaitlin Young. But she’ll be remembered not so much for her skill in the cage as for her significance — she was the sport’s first bonafide female star, and is still the biggest female star that MMA has ever seen. Her May 2008 fight against Young was the first women’s MMA bout to be broadcast on network television.

But that one girl beat the crap out of her right? “Rita Robot,” or something?
You mean Cristiane “Cris Cyborg” Santos. Yes, she indeed beat the crap out of Gina. But keep in mind that Cris Cyborg may have been on steroids at the time, which calls into the question the legitimacy of the win.

Where’s Gina from?
She was born in Dallas County, Texas. Her father, Glenn, was a backup quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. (Glenn Carano is better known to MMA fans as “the hero who dropped the towel.”)

How did a pretty girl like Gina get into fighting in the first place?
Her ex-boyfriend trained with acclaimed Muay Thai instructor Master Toddy, and brought Gina by the gym one day. Upon first meeting her, Toddy said, and we’re quoting here, “Oh no baby, baby you fat, you need to lose weight!” That was enough to inspire Gina to get in shape. If you need help imagining what a fat Gina Carano might look like, click here or here.

Has she dated anybody famous?
Does the name “Kit Cope” mean anything to you?

No, she’s never dated anybody famous.

What’s up with the scars on her left arm?
Nobody knows. It’s a long story that she hasn’t shared yet.

Is Gina Carano ever going to return to MMA?
She says she’s not sure, and has expressed interest in pursuing more movie roles rather than go back to her old life as a cage-fighter. But according to MMA journalists Jim Genia and Matthew Polly — whose opinions we generally respect — Gina’s performance in Haywire is so bad that future film opportunities might not present themselves. Overall, reviews of the movie from MMA news outlets have tended to be less-than-glowing, although the action scenes look pleasingly brutal.

My God, is this Gina Carano?
No, that’s Jaime Koeppe, but that photo is commonly mistaken for Gina by desperate fans. Sorry to crush your dreams, guys.

Cagepotato Comments

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Mofo- January 21, 2012 at 8:26 am
@Ben - you weren't really "fair and balanced" with your mention of Haywire. It's got 82% on RottenTomatoes and 67% on Metacritic.
Mofo- January 21, 2012 at 8:24 am
Soderberg's first movie was Sex Lies and Videotape, about a man who does nothing but film women and then masturbate to them. Hmm. Sasha Grey, Carano... sounds autobiographical now, doesn't it?
slh2346- January 20, 2012 at 7:05 pm
here's a much better article!

and she just might fight again...
The12ozCurls- January 20, 2012 at 9:32 am
NomadRip needs to win some sort of prize with that comment. Freaking awesome. Bring back the "Best comments of the week" schtick again and headline it with NomadRip's glass, pecker, walkie-talkie fart comment. It was a legit "laugh out loud."
NinjaVanish- January 20, 2012 at 7:47 am
NomadRIP that comment was epic
artigale- January 20, 2012 at 7:12 am
Well not everyone hates this movie!
munche- January 19, 2012 at 7:12 pm
I know it goes against the general snarkiness of the site but the movie has 80% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes which is generally a pretty good indicator of quality.

If you read the quotes, most of them have good things to say about Gina Carano, too:
NomadRip- January 19, 2012 at 5:01 pm
I'll be seeing it tomorrow. Looking forward to supporting Gina, even if she has no fucking idea who I am. I'd still drag my pecker through a mile of broken glass just to hear her fart through a walkie-talkie.
SonOfSerbia- January 19, 2012 at 3:54 pm
wow you guys are really hard up for material...Gina hasnt been relevant since Cyborg whooped her one cares...sure we can all fap away to the haywire trailer but seriously who the fuck is going to sit through 90 minutes of that. Get some new staff writers (or hire me) and you'll have a better spectrum of articles. The only people who come to this site are MMAnerds who already know about Gina, and you practically just cut and pasted her Wikipedia...get it together CP...WAR a-Rousey!
amsterdamheavy- January 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm
Jesus Christ, if she was struggling to make 145 and she looked pretty good doing it, what the fuck do you think she weighs in that pic? 175?? more?


The chick said shes been "traveling and getting to know herself" - ya, getting to know what the fuck ice cream and cake and stuff tastes like. Holy fuckin shit shes bloated.
rampage01- January 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm
Jamie Koeppe: that ass!
Fletch the V Stretch- January 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm
HAHA "the hero who dropped the towel"
Ricardo Guitardo- January 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm
I don't care I would eat her with a side of fava beans and a nice chianti.
Swick-a-tine- January 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm
Is it just me or is she looking a bit THICKER than she used to?

Maybe it's the form fitting dresses....I'm just not feeling it...
honkey_kong- January 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm
Those scars on Gina's arm remind me a lot of an ex of mine. She was a cutter. Obviously I have no way of proving thats what they are, but they're in the same location and look the same. My ex used to be overweight, have low self esteem, and thats when she did it. Whenever people would ask about them she'd avoid the question and change the subject out of embarrassment.
Seaman Honor-Chin- January 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm
Not always gonna agree with his reviews, but the man is a helluva writer! But I digress... Let's get back to guys with bigger breasts than Gina's commenting on how fat she is.
DangadaDang- January 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm
True, but Roger Ebert hasn't quite been himself lately, to put it nicely. I mean, the man gave Warhorse 3 1/2 out of 4 stars for fuck's sake.
Seaman Honor-Chin- January 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm
Roger Ebert is impress wit Gina's performance:
NinjaVanish- January 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm
And this is a rip off a much better article. Sorry guys, but that "Dead MMA fighter of the month" article was a total shit show.
NinjaVanish- January 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm
Do most MMA fighters star in movies?
Thankfully not all of them do, but it happens, it usually fails epically. Particularly if the one of the or the actual lead actor/actress is said mma fighter. (A-Team, Warrior, Never Back Down, Never Back Down 2-7, Never surrender, What is it with the Nevers?)

This spectacle usually involves a long, dramatic retirement from fighting before the movie release on the hopes that said crappy film will elevate them to superstardom. Almost always it does nothing other than expose the lack of acting skills from someone who spent the better part of their career gettng punched in the face as hard the other individual could throw. They usually make a return to fighting, much to the joy of the fans and some mid level promoter looking to hold a main event and get his card national attention.
Fried Taco- January 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm
Soderbergh kind of reminds me of myself, if I was a movie producer/director. Any hot girl I wanted to sleep with I would tell her I'm going to make her a star in my next movie. In fact, the only difference between us is that he can actually do it.
The12ozCurls- January 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm
Look at the real Gina and then look at the poster behind her.
I knew you could airbrush a photo, but from the trailers of Haywire that I have seen, I am astonished that they can airbrush an entire movie.
Paste- January 19, 2012 at 1:07 pm
Gina isn't fighting anymore. Until she does, I don't care about her (don't care much then).

for those who are on this site, and somehow don't know who she is..
Gina Carano = The old Ronda Rousey - Olympic experience.

If you don't know who Ronda Rousey is, welcome to MMA... we have been here since 93-ish.