Is Gina Carano's MMA Career Essentially Over?

Jack RollaContributor ISeptember 15, 2009

SAN JOSE, CA - AUGUST 15:  Cris Cyborg (L) battles Gina Carano during their Middleweight Championship fight at Stikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg on August 15, 2009 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

Gina Carano suffered her first loss in the world of MMA at the brutalizing hands of Brazilian striker Cyborg Santos.

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to witness the Strikeforce pay per view, the organization’s very first event to be headlined by two women, you probably heard all the chatter condemning Carano’s disappointing outing and the sport of women’s MMA in general.

The truth is that Gina had a lot of weight on her shoulders, weight that she was unable to hold during this point in her career. The convincing loss to Cyborg has observers wondering: is Gina Carano done as an MMA fighter?


Set up for Failure?

It wasn’t long after the defeat before critics began to compare Carano to street fighting sensation turn MMA bust Kimbo Slice. Since then, several have come out to say that she was simply all hype and no substance, plowing her way through lower quality opponents and only ascending to stardom because of her personality and beauty, not her abilities in the cage.

Though harsh in a sense, the comparisons are fair, especially when considering that Carano and Slice were both products of Gary Shaw’s proverbial “hype machine”, the same vehicle that benefited a number of boxers until they ran up against much better competition.

The major difference that many are overlooking is that while Kimbo went into the last EliteXC event looking for a big pay off and notoriety, Carano stepped into the bout against Cyborg seeking a real challenge.

The similarities between the Carano and Kimbo situation is unsettling because she was handled in a similar manner by Shaw and the EliteXC organization, fed less experienced competition while receiving a push as the top fighter and face of women’s MMA.

Unfortunately, the challenge Carano ran up against was a seasoned, fierce and focused Cyborg. One could say that Santos’ life has always evolved around the world of professional fighting. She was fond of boxing as a child and routinely trained by her husband in their home country of Brazil.

Carano on the other hand, had not competed in more than a year, devoting a great deal of her time to photo shoots, a spot on American Gladiators and promoting women’s MMA. While Cyborg’s power and determination ultimately won the fight, it is easy to assume that Gina’s hectic schedule and the mounting pressures of stardom played a role in the outcome.


A Triumphant Return?

When it comes down to it, Cyborg Santos was just too much for Carano to handle and proved to be the better woman on that night. The resulting response has been a lot of negativity declaring the end of women’s MMA and Gina’s career as a fighter.

However, the grace and dignity in which she handled the situation with leads us to believe that this story is far from over.

Even the great ones have momentarily fallen from grace only to return to play the role of underdog and reclaim their glory. If anything, the fallout over her defeat only signifies the beginning of women’s MMA and will lead to a much anticipated rematch featuring a humbled Carano who is far more prepared the next time around.

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