Why Gina Carano Should Be Forced to Make Weight

Jordan Breen absolutely nails it:

Her undoubtedly impressive performance against Kaitlin Young (Pictures) this past Saturday night pushed her career mark to 6-0. For four of those six fights, Carano came in overweight. Against Julie Kedzie (Pictures) and Tonya Evinger (Pictures), Carano was a fraction of a pound over the one-pound allowance for 140-pound contests. Overweight, yes, but out of line? Debatable. However, this cannot make up for four and four-and-a-half pounds overweight Carano entered her bouts with Rosi Sexton and Young, respectively.

Together, these fights form a pattern of unprofessionalism which certainly wouldn't be tolerated for any other female, let alone a male fighter. Yet, it is a pattern masked by promoters eager to revamp fights at spur-of-the-moment catch weights and a fan base fortifying ideas of illegitimacy for females in the sport.

This is not a wholesale conviction of "Conviction." Despite her weighty indiscretions, Carano is a clearly talented fighter and her high profile has developed the sphere of female MMA. But when Carano revealed that she struggled to make weight because of an abbreviated training camp caused by filming the second season of American Gladiators, she may be closing in on a forced ultimatum: film or fight.

Carano has the talent to be something special, but if she wishes to use MMA as a platform to other pursuits, that's fine. However, making weight is an essential benchmark of professionalism that all fighters should be forced to meet. Contracted weights are not intended to be merely recommendations. Regardless of how much someone is over, their opponent was still forced to make weight, enduring the toll of meeting professional expectations. The process of the weight cut is often every bit as crucial to the unfolding bout as what happens in the cage. To allow certain prized individuals leeway in that struggle affords them an unsportsmanlike advantage.

Some have opined that bringing Carano up to 145 pounds would limit opportunities to fight natural 135-pounders, and with a dearth of heavier-weight female talent, would give MMA's most magnetic female a lack of notable opponent. While there certainly not the talent lurking above 135 as there is below that side of scales, Carano does not exactly fight an iron woman's schedule. Meanwhile, Marloes Coenen (Pictures) just destroyed another overmatched female in Holland this past weekend, looking for legitimate fights. A gritty Jen Case (Pictures) and the gamebred Cristiane Cyborg, both Pro Elite signees, would likely have no problem taking on the promotion's poster girl as featherweights. And that's without suggesting that Carano go a little further up the scale to meet the likes of her fellow American Gladiator Erin Toughill (Pictures), who has lamented the lack of female competitors to face her.

It's not just that it's unprofessional or that EliteXC deserves criticism for failing to take any punitive action. It's not that there aren't contenders at her "natural" weight. And it isn't just that there's a double standard going on with the help of the soft bigotry of expectations about what women can and should do as professional fighters. The truth is weight cutting can actually have a strong hand in the outcome of the fight. When Carano punts the decision to make weight while her opponent grinds it out, she automatically forces her opponents to fight at a disadvantage. With very minor real world consequences and Carano's history of not making weight, this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Hats off to Breen for the even handed but forceful exposition.

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