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Gina Carano vs. Ronda Rousey was undone by an obscene text from Dana White

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The featherweight reveals just how close she was to fighting Ronda Rousey—before Dana White killed the deal

Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg
Gina Carano awaits Cris Cyborg on August 15, 2009. They made history as the first women to headline a major MMA event with Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg.
Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Disney is worth 179 billion, the UFC far less. Now that Gina Carano is firmly ensconced in the House of the Mouse thanks to the success of The Mandalorian on Disney+, it’s probably a little easier to tell stories about the past — even those that don’t paint a flattering picture of the UFC.

With nothing to gain from the story, Carano opened up on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show about the time she almost made a comeback against a prime Ronda Rousey. As Carano tells it, she has been in the acting game for some time when she met with White and other “muscly men” at a restaurant in Hollywood. Carano asked, “What took you so long?”

Fight fans had been hoping to see Carano in the UFC for awhile at that point, and Rousey was a global superstar at the time.

White offered Carano 1 million. As Carano says, she explained her terms, which were simple. She needed time. At least six months. She wanted to be able to build or join a team and build trust with them before revealing her mission was a comeback against Rousey.

She told White, “I am going to need you to do me a favor. You gotta be able to just sit on this for like six months.” Everyone left the dinner in high spirits, and Carano was “stoked,” thinking, “this makes sense. This is my moment to get back in there.”

The very next day, White was discussing Carano in the press, saying he was going to sign her. She sent him a text message, stating that this was not what they had agreed upon. White continued the media onslaught, Carano felt pressured and compromised as she tried to pull a team together. She then received a text from White saying, “this bitch is effing us around, or something like that.” Carano replied by text, saying White must have sent the message to the wrong person. He texted her, “I don’t think I did.”

Carano told Helwani that was the end of the conversation with White. “When people hold money over your head, which they have done since I was a little girl, it’s just never been a turn on for me,” Carano said. “I don’t have a problem with authority, I just have a problem with abused authority.”

She did say that an event in Las Vegas some time later White came up to her and genuinely apologized. All the same, she says the UFC was not “the kind of environment I wanted to come back into” for her return to MMA.

It has turned out all right in the end for Carano, whose continued focus on acting lead to increasingly better roles, culminating in her main role as Cara Dune in the Star Wars series.

While Carano does not regret her choice to walk away from a million dollars and the super fight with Rousey, it was an unfortunate way to lose out on a great opportunity. “So it was a dream that didn’t get to happen. But, I was able to open up doors for women to be able to walk into gyms and it could be easier. And I will always cherish that.”