If everything goes according to plan on Monday, UFC president Dana White will have Gina Carano set up for an immediate title shot against Ronda Rousey. Even with Carano’s long layoff from MMA, that’s the right call to make.
On second thought, perhaps it’s more accurate to say that’s the only call that the UFC can realistically make. Even this far removed from her last fight, Carano is still one of the most popular figures in sports and media today. Signing her to a UFC contract and putting her in a tune-up fight is a waste of time, a waste of money and more importantly, an insanely risky gamble. If we’re to glean anything from the trouble that White’s had with Carano’s legal team, it’s fair to infer the following things:
• Carano will be paid at least seven figures.
• She won’t be held to a long-term contract.
• Her UFC deal may only be for one or two fights.
• If Carano defeats Rousey, there will be an instant rematch.
• If Carano remains champion, her deal lasts as long as her title reign.
Even though Carano hasn’t had nearly the Hollywood success that Rousey has enjoyed so far, one can easily assume that occasional film roles and TV shoots will pay far more than what the UFC can offer, even with pay-per-view bonuses. In fact, it’s kind of surprising that Carano is as popular as she is right now, given her crushing loss on Showtime against Cris Cyborg. If that defeat sent Carano spiraling out of her MMA career, then a loss to Rousey won’t do her many more favors. If you’re Carano’s lawyer, that’s a legitimate sticking point.
Hence, the UFC should be doing everything they can to sweeten the pot.
That means giving Carano tons of money, an immediate title shot and no obligation to stick around for too long if she loses. Sure, it’s not fair to the rest of the division, but just look at Rousey’s competition.
Alexis Davis barely promoted herself and lost in 16 seconds. Sara McMann — a talented Olympic silver medalist — barely lasted more than a minute. Miesha Tate only suffered a worse beating in a rematch. There’s no one who’s going to so much as trouble Rousey for a while, so the UFC may as well set up the biggest women’s MMA fight they can before that match is gone forever.