Bellator Negotiating with Carano, Organization Considering Return to Women's MMA

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistAugust 12, 2014

Gina Carano arrives at the VIP Pre-Fight Party for the One: Mayweather vs. Canelo Fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 in  Las Vegas. (Photo by Eric Jamison/Invision/AP)
Eric Jamison/Associated Press

After Monday's surprising rumor, via a tweet from MMA manager Hector Castro (h/t Mookie Alexander of Bloody Elbow), of Bellator scooping up women's MMA pioneer Gina's Ariel Helwani has confirmed that negotiations between Carano and Bellator are taking place. According to Helwani, signing Carano would be the first step the promotion will take toward reintroducing women's MMA to its shows.

This development with Carano is the latest example of Bellator's campaign to sign fan-favorite fighters, a crusade which has seen the promotion sign popular European strikers Paul Daley and Melvin Manhoef and make a very public play for Carano's former co-worker from EliteXC, Kimbo Slice, per (h/t Ariel Helwani).

Should Carano come to terms with Bellator, the promotion would likely opt to build a 145-pound division around her star power. Carano still owns a degree of mainstream popularity and would instantly become one of Bellator's most identifiable stars. However, the crop of female talent at 145 pounds remains thin, leaving Carano with few potential opponents.

While Carano seemingly retired after being defeated by Cris "Cyborg" Justino, she has consistently refused (h/t CagePotato) to close the door on her MMA career. Recently, she has been locked in serious negotiations with the UFC, angling for a title shot opposite the UFC's leading lady, Ronda Rousey. While the fight remains a serious blockbuster, Bellator would likely offer Carano more freedom in terms of pursuing her acting career and fighting at 145 pounds.

It is worth noting that should Bellator sign Carano, this would not be their first foray into women's MMA.

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Bellator previously had a women's strawweight division, one which saw the likes of Megumi Fujii, Zoila Frausto, Felice Herrig, Jessica Aguilar and Carla Esparza all compete. The title would eventually fade away, giving way to a flyweight division that added the likes of Jessica Eye and The Ultimate Fighter 18 runner-up Jessica Rakoczy.

Eventually, however, Bellator would dissolve the division, with most of the fighters moving on to either Invicta FC or the UFC.

Keep an eye on Bleacher Report for more news on Carano and Bellator as it becomes available.