Former mixed-martial-artist Gina Carano spearheaded the expansion of women's MMA way before Ronda Rousey and Amanda Nunes became the faces of the sport. Carano is often regarded as one of the first female fighters to put women's MMA on the map and help it gain a mainstream reputation.
The majority of MMA fans were only accustomed to watching muscular men brawl it out before Carano stepped in to reinvigorate women's MMA, directing a lot of attention to female fighters.
After fighting eight professional MMA bouts, Carano decided to switch her focus to acting, and the Texas native became a full-time actor. Fortunately, by the time she left MMA for Hollywood, the sport had gained enough viewership to help women's MMA survive on its own.
Carano went on to feature in a slew of successful movies after she called it a career in MMA, but the 38-year-old has recently been making headlines for her role as 'Cara Dune' in the spin-off series of Star Wars, The Mandalorian.
She received widespread acclaim for her performance in the popular series, which suggests Carano's propensity to thrive in a completely different profession. The Mandalorian's season 2 finale recently aired on Disney+ following which the former MMA fighter trended on Twitter.
However, many of those who largely recognize Gina Carano as 'Cara Dune' may not be aware of her influential career in MMA.
Before making a name for herself in Hollywood, Carano had a knack for combat sports. She started training in Muay Thai before eventually transitioning to MMA.
Carano made her professional MMA debut in 2006 opposite Leiticia Pestova, and it only took her 38 seconds to finish the fight via knock out. The next year, she competed in a major MMA promotion for the first time against Elaina Maxwell at Strikeforce.
Carano would go on a seven fight win-streak before bumping into the legendary Chris Cyborg. Both Cyborg and Carano were two of the biggest female fighters back then, which forced Strikeforce to put the inaugural women's featherweight championship on the line. Cyborg defeated her American opponent via TKO in the final seconds of the first round.
Soon after the loss, Carano turned her attention to acting, and she hasn't set foot inside the octagon since.
Gina Carano's notable films
Ever since she retired from the sport, Gina Carano has been featured in 11 full-length Hollywood movies. She made her debut in Blood and Bone, a martial arts film, in which the great Kimbo Slice also made an appearance.
Carano's big break landed her a role in Fast and Furious 6, and the 38-year-old also appeared in Deadpool in 2016.
She starred as a lead actor for the first time in Scorched Earth, a science fiction movie. Carano played another lead role in an action thriller film, Daughter of the Wolf.
Some other notable movies in which Carano has featured in, include Haywire, In the Blood, Heist, Extraction, Kickboxer: Vengeance, and Madness in the Method.
Carano is also popular for her role as Crush in the American TV show, American Gladiators.Published 22 Dec 2020, 04:15 IST