Gina Joy Carano is an actress, a model and a former mixed martial artist. She and Cristiane “Cris Cyborg” Justino Venâncio are the first women to headline a major MMA event.
Carano attended Trinity Christian High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States where she played basketball, volleyball and softball. After a year in the University of Nevada, Reno, she spent three years in the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where she majored in psychology.
Before becoming a professional MMA fighter, Carano was a professional Muay Thai fighter with 12 wins, 1 loss and 1 draw. In 2007, she told Nevada Appeal, “People embellish things.”
“I’m not sure if I’m the first female or male to travel to Thailand and get a title although they say it on television or wherever,” Carano continued. “I have gone over there and fought good Thai girls. There are so many titles out there.”
“I don’t put so much emphasis on titles,” Carano added. “I fought two Thai champions and won.”
As a professional MMA fighter with a fight name “Conviction,” Carano competed in World Extreme Fighting, World Pro Fighting Championships, Strikeforce and Elite Xtreme Combat and had 7 wins and 1 loss. Here are 13 more facts about her:
- She was born in Dallas, Texas, USA in 1982 to Italian-American father Glenn Carano, who competed in the National Football League team Dallas Cowboys from 1977 to 1983, and American mother Dana Joy Cason. Glenn and Cason divorced in 1989.
- She weighed 178 lbs in 2003. She accompanied her boyfriend Kevin Ross, a Muay Thai fighter, in the gym where she met his trainer named Master Chan. The trainer told her she needed to lose some weight and successfully convinced her to start training in Muay Thai.
- In 2005, she appeared in “Ring Girls,” a documentary film about five American women who trained under Master Toddy and traveled to Thailand to meet the country’s Muay Thai fighters.
- In 2006, she made her professional MMA debut. In one year, she defeated Leiticia Pestova, Rosi Sexton and Elaina Maxwell.
- Inspired by “Ring Girls,” the Oxygen Network reality series “Fight Girls” featured her as Mentor Gina in 2007. In seven episodes, she advised 10 young women who dreamed of traveling to Thailand and fighting there. In the same year, she appeared in the TV movie documentary “Countdown to Destiny” and defeated two professional MMA opponents namely Julie Kedzie and Tonya Evinger.
- In 2008, she defeated two professional MMA opponents namely Kaitlin Young and Kelly Kobold. In the same year, she appeared as one of the female gladiators in the competition TV show “American Gladiators” and voiced Natasha Volkova in “Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3,” a real-time strategy video game developed by EA Los Angeles and published by Electronic Arts for Microsoft Windows.
- She played Veretta in the 2009 action drama film “Blood and Bone,” which starred Michael Jai White, Julian Sands and Eamonn Walker. In the same year, she had her first ever professional MMA loss when she was knocked out by Justino in the main event of “Strikeforce: Carano vs Cyborg,” the first ever major MMA event headlined by female fighters.
- Her first lead film role was Mallory Kane in the 2011 action drama film “Haywire,” which also starred Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas and Michael Fassbender.
- In 2012, she appeared in the TV movie documentary “I am Bruce Lee.”
- She played Riley Hicks in the 2013 action film sequel “Fast & Furious 6,” which also starred Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Dwayne Johnson, John Ortiz, Jordana Brewster, Luke Evans, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker, Sung Kang, Tyrese Gibson and Vin Diesel. She voiced the same character in “Fast & Furious: Showdown,” a cooperative racing video game developed by Firebrand Games and published by Activision for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and Microsoft Windows.
- Released in 2014, action film “In the Blood” marked her second film lead role. Her co-lead actors were Cam Gigandet, Ismael Cruz Córdova, Luis Guzmán, Treat Williams, Amaury Nolasco, Stephen Lang and Danny Trejo. In the same year, she played Danica in “Almost Human” Season 1 episode 9 “Unbound.”
- On the big screen, she starred in “Heist” and “Extraction” in 2015, “Deadpool” and “Kickboxer: Vengeance” in 2016, “Scorched Earth” in 2018 and “Daughter of the Wolf” and “Madness in the Method” in 2019.
- In 2019, she appeared in three episodes of “The Mandalorian” as Cara Dune.