When Ronda Rousey was in the midst of her dominant run as the women’s UFC bantamweight champ in 2014, there was a lot of chatter about Gina Carano signing with the promotion and getting an immediate title shot vs. Rousey.
During Monday’s edition of the Ariel Helwani Show, Carano finally revealed why talks with her and the UFC broke down.
“When Ronda Rousey became popular, I remember they finally called for a meeting and I walked into this restaurant and [Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White] looked like two big muscly guys at the table in the middle of Hollywood and I remember thinking, ‘What took you guys so long?’” Carano said.
“So they were like, ‘Okay, we’d love to offer you a million dollars to have that fight (against Ronda Rousey).’ And I was like, ‘Well that sounds great, [but] I am going to need you to do me a favor then because I have been acting now and I’m not active in any gym, so you’re going to have to give me some time to build a team, to join a team.’ Which is not an easy thing as all fighters know…
“So I told them they would have to be able to sit on it for six months, Dana, you can’t say anything and let me get situated with that in mind because that sounds great and I’d love to do it. It was a nice dinner and we all left positive and I left stoked. It made sense. This is my moment to come and be back in there.”
At that time, Carano hadn’t fought in five years while thriving as an actress in Hollywood. Before devoting herself to acting on a full-time basis, she was the most popular women’s mixed martial artist.
Carano went 7-0 with four finishes (three knockouts and one submission) to set up a showdown with Cris Cyborg for the Strikeforce women’s featherweight championship on Aug. 15 of 2009.
Cyborg won the fight by knocking out Carano with one second remaining in the opening round. It was the first MMA show headlined by a women’s fight in the sport’s history.
So what went wrong with Carano signing and facing Rousey in what would’ve been one of the biggest fights in UFC history?
Well, according to Carano, it was Dana White’s impatience and a rude text message.
You can hear what Carano had to say in this clip here:
The rest of the text of Carano’s comments are here:
“And then the next day, Dana was out there talking about me and talking about my name and telling people that he was going to sign me and I don’t even have a team yet,” Carano said. “And I was like, that is not what we discussed. You were supposed to give me at least six months to find a team. Then he started trying to put on the pressure through the media. It was a bummer because I told him over a text message that it was not what we had talked about. I need time, and now I am going to walk into a gym and people know that’s what I’m doing and I needed to build trust and find people.
“So, then he kept on doing that and kept on doing that and I’m still searching for a team and feeling all that pressure. Then he sent me a text message that said, ‘This bitch is effin’ us around,’ or something like that.
“So I sent a text message back and said, ‘I think that you sent that to the wrong person’ and he said, ‘I don’t think I did’ and that was the last conversation that we ever had over text message because I don’t think that was the kind of environment that I wanted to come back into. So I just cut all communication after that text.”
To White’s credit, he did eventually apologize to Carano, as she explained to Helwani.
“I remember seeing him when Mike Tyson and my dad were getting honored at a sports hall of fame in Las Vegas and he did come up to me and he genuinely apologized. But yeah, I didn’t think that not even a million dollars – when people hold money over your head, which they have done since I was a little girl, it’s just never been a turn on for me. I don’t have a problem with authority, I just have a problem with abused authority. So that was the end of that conversation.”