UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey makes her long-awaited promotional debut at UFC 157 this Saturday, taking on Liz Carmouche in the first female bout in promotional history.
Needless to say, the 26-year-old has had her hands full with media obligations in the weeks leading up to the fight.
“I would never be an MMA fighter if it wasn’t for [Carano],” Rousey told The Post. “I’m not dumb enough to not be grateful. ... I just say thank God for Gina Carano.”
Rousey indicated that the first women's MMA bout she ever saw was in Feb. 2007, when Carano earned a unanimous decision victory over Julie Kedzie under the now defunct EliteXC banner.
Carano was a perfect 7-0 as a professional mixed martial artist before getting her shot at then Strikeforce women's featherweight champ Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, losing by TKO at the closing seconds of the first round of their Aug. 2009 bout.
Rousey was linked to a superfight with Santos for months, before the Brazilian decided she could not make the 135-pound bantamweight limit and instead signed with Invicta Fighting Championships after Zuffa, LLC released her.
Carano has since taken a hiatus from the cage to focus on her acting career, which includes the recent action film Haywire and the upcoming Fast and the Furious 6.
Rousey believes that Carano's film career gives a valuable boost to women's MMA:
“I really think what she’s doing with films is just as much an influence on women’s MMA as her fighting again,” Rousey said. “She’s continuing to represent us very well, bringing women’s MMA to an audience that doesn’t know MMA really at all.”
The former Olympic bronze medalist in Judo enters her epic UFC title fight with a perfect 6-0 record, finishing all of her opponents with an armbar in the first round.
The similarities between Rousey and Carano go beyond the fight world.