After having to wait over a year, Gina “Conviction” Carano (7-0) will finally get the fight she’s been waiting for, as she faces Cris “Cyborg” Santos (7-1) in the main event of Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg on August 15th. Carano is set to put an end to her hiatus, as well as questions concerning who is the world’s best female mixed martial artist.
“I’m really training hard and I’m looking forward to fighting Cyborg,” Carano stated. “I think it’s going to be the toughest fight of my life. I appreciate all the love and support. It’s going to be a tough fight, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Carano was one of the few contracts that Strikeforce was not able to secure from their deal with ProElite. Although she was one of EliteXC’s most popular fighters, she certainly wasn’t compensated like it. Four months after the aqcuisition, the two sides have finally come to terms. Although specifics of her new Strikeforce deal were not released, the organization did confirm they have signed Carano to a multi-fight contract, locking in the MMA beauty for many years to come.
“This is an honor on so many different levels,” Carano stated of her new home. “It’s an honor to be fighting on Strikeforce. I’m really impressed with the cards they’ve put on.”
Carano, who has had problems making weight for several of her fights in the past, addressed concerns about her being able to make weight this time around.
“I’d rather keep to myself how much I weigh right now, but I’ve never had any troubles getting down to 145,” she noted. “I’ve had trouble making 130 and 135. I think 145 is a perfect weight for me and Cyborg and I don’t see any problem for either of us getting down to it.”
Carano, who has been training with Extreme Couture, will be cornered in the fight by UFC Hall Of Famer, Randy Couture.
“Originally, when I first met Randy, it was before that SHOWTIME fight against Julie Kedzie,” Carano said of her coach. “He just came into the locker room and said two sentences to me and it screwed my head on straight. I haven’t really gotten to work with him for the last two years I’ve been a part of Extreme Couture. We both had different things going on. I knew he would be in Las Vegas for the months leading up to this fight, so I thought it might be important for me to really not try to manage all this high level of intensity. I just didn’t want to have to deal with that all by myself, like I had to in the past. I’m not taking anything away from the managers that I’ve had, but there aren’t a lot of people that can put it straight and organize you like Randy Couture. He’s had the experience since the beginning of the sport. It was nice to not have to do it by myself and to have someone who has been through it before.”
Carano also talked about the first thing that Couture had told her.
“He sat down, and I’d never met him before. He sat down and my head was wound up a little bit too tight. He looked at me and said, ‘You know why we do this.’ And I looked at him like, ‘No, why am I doing this.’ And he said, ‘because we love it, right?’ His presence and his coolness completely took any anxiety that I was feeling and turned it into passion. I was ready to go from then. After that fight, I said if somebody can affect me that strongly I want to go train with them.”
Carano also talked about the attention she gets for her beauty.
“I don’t understand why everyone focuses on my looks,” she asked. “There are a lot of beautiful women out there. It’s just kind of thrown me off my feet with the attention that I’ve gotten. Now, I’m getting more organized and I’m taking a break from all the hype and everything so I can be more true to myself. I’m trying to do my best with the opportunities I’ve been given and I think I’m really maturing. It will be nothing but better from here on out.”
The fight will also be the first time a women’s fight has headlined a major MMA card.
“A fight is a fight when it comes down to it and I know that it’s going to be a very difficult fight,” Carano noted. “The fact that STRIKEFORCE put this on is a complete honor to once again have another first in history. I know that women’s MMA is going to do nothing but get bigger from here on out. To have the first main event in MMA history, against Cyborg of all people, is just going to be amazing for me. It’s such an honor, and since it’s such an honor I just don’t feel the added pressure. I think it’s a win-win situation.
“I’m just so excited. I’ve never been so excited for a fight.”
In addition, the winner of this catfight will be anointed the first-ever women’s MMA champion. Not only will fans finally get to see these two go at it, but it will be in a five, 5-minute round affair.
“I’m honored to fight such a great opponent and to fight for the first-ever female MMA title,” Carano said. “I think this is going to be a tough fight. It’s going to be tough even if it was three rounds or 3-minute rounds. Cyborg is such an amazing athlete and amazing fighter. This is all getting compounded by three: there’s a title, I’m fighting Cyborg and its 5-minute rounds. So, for me, mentally, this has done nothing but focus me and bring back the passion that I need to train. When I have an awesome opponent to train for I’m in the gym and I’m really excited for it. All I want is for it to be a good fight and for us to do our best out there. I think that’s what will happen. The 5-minute rounds are definitely going to intensify it, but we’re going to go for it. I know we can do it.”
Carano also talked about meeting her opponent, saying “Our rooms were right across from each other at one of the fights. I don’t speak the same language as her, but it’s been nothing but smiles. She seems like a great girl and I’m excited and honored to fight her. I couldn’t have a better opponent to make history with.”
While it has been all smiles when they’ve met, Carano says she’s prepared for anything that Cyborg has to offer.
“I’m prepared for everything because I know that Cris is good at everything. She’s great standing, she’s great on the ground. I’m prepared for wherever this fight goes. I think in the past I’ve been labeled as a standup fighter, but I’m not afraid to take it to the ground either. I’m going to be prepared for everything, however it goes, and, hopefully, I’ll come out the winner in it.
“I’m just going to fight my game plan and try to be in the best shape possible. And, hopefully, just do my best and fight my fight and not anybody else’s fight. She’s explosive. We’re going to find out how I handle it, I guess.”
Carano also addressed the depth and future of the women’s fight division, noting that “the problem has been exposure for women. People walk away from female fighting and they talk about it like it’s the main event. It’s just a matter of exposure. It’s blowing up from here and I’m so honored to be a part of it from the beginning.
“I’m honored to be a part of such a great sport. I think that it has changed my life in a lot of ways and redirected me. I’ve learned so much about the world through this sport. For this fight, it’s one of the biggest honors and it almost makes me choke up to say that I’m going to be able to fight such a wonderful opponent. It’s such a big deal for females in this sport. There are so many of them out there and there are going to be so many more in the years to come.
“I really feel like we’re a part of something huge. I hope I make everybody proud and I’m looking forward to all the great fights in the future.”
Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg will be will take place at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, with tickets having gone on sale June 15th.