Gina Joy Carano (born April 16, 1982) is an American actress, television personality, fitness model, and former mixed martial artist (MMA). She competed in EliteXC and Strikeforce from 2006 to 2009, where she compiled a 7–1 record. Her popularity led to her being called the "face of women's MMA", although Carano rejected this title. She and Cris Cyborg were the first women to headline a major MMA event during their 2009 Strikeforce bout. Carano retired from competition after her first professional MMA defeat to Cyborg.
Transitioning from the ring to the screen, Carano landed her first major role as the lead of the action film Haywire (2011). She performed in Fast & Furious 6 (2013) and Deadpool (2016). Carano also portrayed Cara Dune in the first two seasons of the Disney+ space Western television series The Mandalorian from 2019 to 2020. Following a series of controversial posts she made to social media, Lucasfilm announced in 2021 that Carano would not appear in future Star Wars media.
Carano was born in Dallas County, Texas, and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, the daughter of Dana Joy Cason and casino executive and former professional football player Glenn Carano. She is the middle child of three sisters. She was raised by her mother after her parents divorced when Gina was 7. She has said that her family celebrates "an Italian festival" every year, though she is of a "small percentage of Italian" descent.Carano graduated from Trinity Christian High School in Las Vegas where she led the girls' basketball team to a state title. She also played volleyball and softball. She attended the University of Nevada, Reno for a year and then University of Nevada, Las Vegas for three years, majoring in psychology.
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 Pestovа (a bout Carano won in 38 seconds). 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.Carano faced Elaina Maxwell at Strikeforce: Triple Threat on December 8, 2006. She won the fight via unanimous decision. Carano proved critics wrong when she defeated Maxwell for the second time; the first victory coming in a Muay Thai bout. The fight was the first female fight in Strikeforce. She fought on the February 10, 2007 Showtime EliteXC card, defeating Julie Kedzie via unanimous decision in what was called the "Fight of the Night." The fight was the first televised female fight on Showtime. Her scheduled bout against Jan Finney at the EliteXC/K-1 Dynamite!! USA event on June 2, 2007, was canceled due to illness. The Fight Network and other news outlets reported that she was rushed to the hospital by ambulance for dehydration while attending a World Extreme Cagefighting event as a spectator.Carano fought on the September 15, 2007 Showtime EliteXC card, where she defeated Tonya Evinger via rear-naked choke for her first career win by submission. Carano impressed critics by holding her own on the ground before submitting Evinger late in the first round. Carano defeated former HOOKnSHOOT Champion Kaitlin Young at EliteXC: Primetime on May 31, 2008. A day before the fight, Carano failed to make weight for her fight after weighing in at 144.5 pounds (65.5 kg). Although most MMA organizations set weight classes at 135 lb (61 kg) (bantamweight) and 145 lb (66 kg) (featherweight), EliteXC opted to create a women's weight class at 140 pounds (64 kg). Carano agreed to forfeit 12.5% of her "show" purse to Young, and the fight remained on the card.Leading up to her fight against Kelly Kobold, there was much controversy over whether Carano would make weight for the fight, as she had fought only once in the past year and had failed to make weight. Carano assured critics that she would be able to make weight since she had hired a nutritionist to help with her dieting. At the weigh-in for the Kobold fight on October 3, 2008, Carano weighed in at 142.75 pounds (64.75 kg) on her first attempt. After removing her clothing, a towel-covered Carano weighed in a second time at 142.5 pounds (64.6 kg). The towel was removed, and on her third attempt, Carano weighed 141 pounds (64 kg) and successfully made weight.
Early on, Kobold was intent on pressing Carano in the clinch, while working for the takedown throughout the fight. Kobold managed a takedown in the second round, but the round ended before she could take meaningful advantage of it. Carano worked her opportunities by hitting Kobold at every turn whenever the fighters separated while opening a huge gash on the inside of her opponent's eyebrow in the first round. At the end of the third round, Carano looked to finish the fight as she unloaded a head kick that landed flush on Kobold's chin, but Kobold remained on her feet and the bout came to a close. Carano won by unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, and 29–28).
Strikeforce Women's Lightweight Championship bout
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. Though the 145-pound division is most commonly referred to as featherweight, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker stated that the title would be known as the Strikeforce Women's Lightweight Championship. The title was later renamed the Strikeforce Women's Middleweight Championship. Carano lost the fight against Cyborg by TKO at 4:59 in the first round, giving her first-ever loss in her professional MMA career.Carano has not fought since August 2009 and has not been scheduled for any upcoming events. Carano is still under contract with the UFC through her old Strikeforce contract and has four fights remaining on that contract.In November 2010, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker stated he was hopeful that she would return in 2011. Carano's return was formally announced in February 2011, and Strikeforce announced at its April 9, 2011, event in San Diego that Carano would make her return against Sarah D'Alelio on June 18, during the Overeem vs. Werdum Strikeforce event in Dallas. This bout would have been held by Zuffa, who have been detractors of women's MMA in the past. Critics asserted that the reason for the turnaround was Carano's marketability. However, the fight did not take place. Initially, Strikeforce announced Carano failed her pre-fight medical examination and the fight was pulled from the card. Later, it became public that Carano was medically cleared by the Athletic Commission but was removed from the card for other reasons.In April 2014, during an appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show Carano said she was considering a return to MMA. In September 2014, Dana White of the UFC said contract negotiations with Carano had stalled. During her appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience 690 podcast, Ronda Rousey said a fight between Gina Carano and her had been planned for December 2014, but never materialized.
Television and film career
Carano starred in the 2005 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 appeared in Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 as Natasha,
a purchasable hero unit, portraying the Soviet sniper/commando in various cut scenes. She is featured in the Michael Jai White film Blood and Bone (2009).
In September 2009, Carano landed the leading role in the spy thriller movie Haywire (2011), directed by Steven Soderbergh.Christy Lemire of the Associated Press stated: "[Carano's] dialogue delivery may seem a bit stiff — and she has acknowledged that Soderbergh made some tweaks to her voice in post-production — but she has tremendous presence: an intriguing mix of muscular power and eye-catching femininity."Newsweek said Carano's martial-arts experience gives her "an unparalleled physicality" in the role.
She described her knockout fight with co-star Michael Fassbender:
We were brutal to each other. He was slamming me into the wall. He slammed my head so hard, I lost it for a second — I went white. And at one point, our knees clashed, [and] he got a limp.
In February 2012, Carano was cast in In the Blood (2014), an action thriller directed by John Stockwell. The film is set in motion when a husband disappears while vacationing in the Caribbean with his wife, played by Carano. The grieving wife passionately and recklessly pursues the men whom she believes kidnapped and killed him. Stockwell stated, "This role will showcase not only Gina's fighting skills but also her acting abilities as her character struggles to [rein] in her violent past."In September 2012, Carano signed on as the lead in an all-female ensemble action film described as the female version of The Expendables. Producer Adi Shankar said, "I don't know how I'm supposed to make a movie that is supposed to be the female version of The Expendables without Gina Carano in it. It would be like making Twix without caramel or Jamba Juice without Jamba."Carano co-starred in Fast & Furious 6 (2013) as a member of Special Agent Luke Hobbs' (Dwayne Johnson) Diplomatic Security Service team.
Critics were united in their praise of Carano's performance.Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "Gina Carano is BIG fun to watch. [She] is still a bit stilted with her line readings, but her two fight scenes with Michelle Rodriguez are just epic."
Matt Goldberg of Collider.com wrote that the scene would "create a lot of new Gina Carano fans."In July 2013, she and comic book creator Rob Liefeld announced they were working on a big-screen adaptation of Liefied's Avengelyne in which Carano would star as a fallen angel, who is sent to Earth with a mission to find and protect 'the one', a person who holds the key to saving mankind from demons and other monsters.
Carano appeared in the 2013–2014 Fox series Almost Human episode "Unbound", where she played the part of an XRN combat android named Danica. She co-starred in the 2015 film Extraction, and she played Angel Dust in the 2016 film Deadpool.In December 2018, she was announced as part of the cast of The Mandalorian, Lucasfilm's first live-action Star Wars television series.
She portrayed the character Cara Dune with a first appearance in the fourth episode of the first season titled "Chapter 4: Sanctuary".
Carano initially believed she would be playing the role of a female Wookiee, and was surprised to "find that [she] was one of the few people that you were actually going to see her face."
She played the role in seasons 1 and 2.In February 2021, it was announced that Gina Carano would appear as a guest on an episode of the show Running Wild with Bear Grylls. The episode aired in May 2021.In the week after Lucasfilm severed ties with her, Carano revealed that she would be undertaking a new film project with conservative media company The Daily Wire. The film, written by Eric Red and based on his novel White Knuckle, follows a woman (Carano) who survives an attempted murder by a serial-killer trucker known as “White Knuckle” and teams up with another truck driver to catch the killer after the police fail to do so. Carano will also produce the film and is scheduled to begin filming in October 2021 in Tennessee, Utah and Montana. The film will be released exclusively to members of The Daily Wire in the U.S. and released internationally by Voltage Pictures.On October 13, 2021, Jeremy Boreing gave an update on the movie. He stated that the movie, Terror on the Prairie had started filming on October 12 and had a release target of March or April 2022. Ousting from Lucasfilm
Lucasfilm announced in 2021 that Carano would not appear in future Star Wars projects following a series of controversial posts she made to social media.
These included tweets in which she mocked the use of face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States
and repeated baseless claims of voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election.
In late 2020, Carano clashed with activists on Twitter, who criticized her lack of public support for the Black Lives Matter movement,
leading some to accuse her of racism.
Weeks later, after facing calls from some fans to put her preferred gender pronouns in her Twitter profile, she added the words "beep/bop/boop".
Critics interpreted this as ridicule, leading to accusations of transphobia.
She later apologized and removed them, saying that Mandalorian actor Pedro Pascal had helped her understand the use of preferred pronouns.In February 2021, Carano shared an Instagram post that compared "hating someone for their political views" to the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust
and included an image taken during the Lviv pogroms.
Many critics interpreted the post as comparing American conservatives to Jews in Nazi Germany.
Shortly afterward, Lucasfilm stated that Carano was no longer employed by the company, saying that "her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable". The same day, she was dropped by United Talent Agency.
Carano 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!, and ranked no. 5 on Yahoo!'s "Top Ten Influential Women of 2008" list.In May 2009, Carano was ranked no. 16 on Maxim's Hot 100 list. She is one of the cover athletes along with Serena Williams for the October 19, 2009, edition of ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue.
In addition to being a nominee for the 2013 Critics Choice Awards for best actress in an action movie for Haywire, Carano was a top 10 most-searched athlete on Yahoo! that year.
2012 AOCA / Awakening Outstanding Contribution Award
2012 ActionFest Film Festival, Chick Norris Award for Best Female Action StarMixed martial arts record
List of Strikeforce alumni
List of female mixed martial artists
List of female kickboxersNotes
Gina Carano at Awakening Fighters
Gina Carano with ESPN.com 2009
American Gladiators Crush Profile (GladiatorsTV.com)
American Gladiators Profile
Goodman, Justine (October 2, 2013). "Gina Carano Has A New Movie, 'In The Blood', So Let's Revisit Her Maxim Photo Shoot!". Maxim.
Gina Carano at IMDb
Gina Carano on Twitter
Gina Carano on Instagram
Gina Carano on Facebook
Professional MMA record for Gina Carano from Sherdog