Carano, Conviction, and Heavyweight Hypocrisy


There is a world of red-blooded male mixed martial arts fans who would love to date Gina Carano (Pictures). The rationale is obvious: Carano is extra-easy on the oculars and almost any hardcore fan can attest to wishing his own main squeeze was a little more into the sport, if not a fighter herself.

And how nice it must be to have a girl who doesn't care at all about her weight.

Snarkiness aside, in spite of an actual fight card which produced more than a handful of hot topics and discussion points -- as well as a great performance from Carano herself -- my mind has yet to fully drift from yet another weigh-in debacle. The fact that such an event was swept under the rug indicated some kind of insignificance. Carano missing weight again wasn't just a story because nothing else interesting happened on Friday; it's an ongoing issue fight fans should be taking umbrage with.

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.

However, what really makes the situation all the more objectionable is Gary Shaw's hypocritical history when it comes to scale battles.

"If (Jose Luis) Castillo doesn't want to fight at 135 pounds, then be man enough and say we can't make the weight. I promise you, this will not happen again," said Shaw after Castillo waffled the late Diego Corrales in their September 2005 rematch. When Castillo failed to make weight for their proposed June 2006 rubber match, Shaw refused to let his man step into the ring.

"[Diego Corrales] is not going to put his life at risk," said Shaw after the fight was cancelled. Castillo weighed in at 139.5 pounds, four-and-a-half pounds over the 135-pound limit. Not terribly unlike the four-and-a-half pounds overweight that Carano came in at for her bout with Young.

MMA fans were outraged when Travis Lutter (Pictures) missed weight for his proposed UFC title bout Anderson Silva. The fact that Lutter would be cast as Grendel for the rest of his career while Carano escapes scot-free implicitly enforces the idea that male MMA is of an inherently greater value than its female counterpart. The light-hearted reception of Carano's actions would seem to indicate that much of MMA's fan base feels that female MMA has no legitimacy in the first place.

Those fans acknowledging female MMA as worthwhile cannot tolerate this kind of complacency in the future. Silence and tolerance only affirm the idea that female MMA isn't worth the time, the effort, or the outrage that characterize our reactions to the same irresponsibility from male fighters.

Her future on the scale will determine whether or not "Conviction" is a misnomer for Gina Carano. That same future will let us know whether Elite XC, Gary Shaw or MMA fans have any conviction of their own.

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