LOS ANGELES » Gina Carano is scheduled to meet with UFC President Dana White on Wednesday night to discuss a return to mixed martial arts for a bout with bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.
The long-rumored matchup between the biggest stars in women’s MMA history appears increasingly possible after White confirmed Carano’s interest in fighting Rousey, arguably the UFC’s biggest current star.
White dismissed any suggestion the fight would be a mismatch, saying he would be eager to pit the unbeaten Rousey against Carano, who hasn’t fought since August 2009 while pursuing an acting career.
"(If Carano) is going to come back, (it’s) because she wants this," White said Wednesday at a downtown Los Angeles hotel. "And if she says yes and she wants to do a deal, it’s because she wants to fight Ronda."
Rousey said she would welcome the chance to fight Carano, the MMA pioneer whose television fights first exposed Rousey, a former U.S. Olympic medalist in judo, to the young sport.
"She’s the reason why I fight at all," Rousey said. "I owe everything to her. I would bend over backwards to fight her. What, are we going to make her run through a gauntlet to fight me? I would show up at her house to fight her. … It’s a fight that I’ve always wanted and I never really entertained as being a real possibility until lately."
Carano, who turns 32 next week, has been increasingly vocal about her interest in returning to MMA, confirming it on "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" earlier this week.
"It’s something that I’ve always loved to do, and it’s been such a genuine expression for me," Carano said. "I wouldn’t say that unless I was really, actually thinking about making a comeback."
White said a potential Rousey-Carano bout would be for the 135-pound title, not at a catch weight. Carano hasn’t fought at 135 pounds since 2006 and repeatedly missed 140-pound limits later in her career, but White said Carano believes she could make the bantamweight limit.
Carano made her pro MMA debut in 2006, and she gained widespread mainstream attention after two of her bouts for the EliteXC promotion aired on CBS in 2008. After seven straight victories, Carano lost her final fight to Cris "Cyborg" Justino in the defunct Strikeforce promotion before moving full-time into acting.
Director Steven Soderbergh saw her CBS fights and hired her to star in "Haywire," a well-regarded 2011 spy thriller. She has since appeared in a series of action films, including the blockbuster "Fast & Furious 6" last year.
Rousey defended her 135-pound belt in December and again in February before returning to her own nascent acting career, this time in the seventh installment of the "Fast & Furious" series.
The fight would draw enormous attention to the UFC and women’s MMA because of the fighters’ profiles outside the cage, likely becoming one of the biggest pay-per-view events in UFC history. Rousey believes Carano shouldn’t have to fight another contender before this matchup, saying Carano’s body of work justifies an immediate title shot.
"I think it would be the best thing for women’s MMA at the time," Rousey said. "It would be the highest-profile fight, and I don’t think it would really make sense for her to come back and fight somebody else and take the risk of maybe losing and not being able to capitalize on a fight between me and her. I think it would make more sense to go straight to a title fight."