Gina Carano isn't a UFC fighter. Not yet, anyway, but that hasn't stopped fans from fantasy matchmaking about who she could face in her UFC debut. In fact, UFC brass have also added fuel to the speculative fire by suggesting it wouldn't be out of bounds for Carano to face UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in her first bout back after a five year hiatus.
For Randy Couture, who has helped train Carano in the past, that's not an idea he thinks is particularly fair or prudent for the former Strikeforce and EliteXC standout.
"I have not gotten a chance to talk to Gina and she hasn't really reached out to new me about that situation. I think she's as capable as any athlete that I've been around," Couture told Ariel Helwani on Monday's The MMA Hour.
"Technically, it's a very interesting matchup. [Gina]'s a very, very good striker. We've not really seen Ronda Rousey face a solid striker like Gina Carano. I think if Gina had an Achilles heel, even when she was at her peak over five years ago, it was the grappling side of things. So, my sincere hope is that they give her a chance to get up to speed, get back into top fight shape and really kind of shore up her grappling technique and that side of her game, and then it would be an amazing fight."
In other words, Couture doesn't think a potential Carano vs. Rousey bout is a bad idea under any circumstance. His major objection stems from the worry that it makes little sense for Carano to make that her UFC debut after an extended hiatus from the sport.
"I think it's silly. It'd be silly for Gina," Couture argued. "I think Gina has way more to lose there than she has to gain in stepping right in to a title fight after being off and off the mats in training environment for the last five years.
"And frankly, I think she's done an amazing job with her movie career," he continued. "I don't know why she would want to do that. I think if they give her a chance to really get her feet back under her and get back up to technical speed where she was, it would be a very interesting fight."
As Couture noted, he doesn't know why Carano is flirting with the idea of a return to the cage. He and Carano haven't discussed the issue. From his vantage point, though, Carano has athletic dreams left unfulfilled.
"I think it's a personal decision. I think if she's got more to do or feels like she has more to do in that cage, then she needs to settle that and come back, make a run at it and do it 100 percent. But those are personal decisions. It's not for me to say," he noted.
Despite his reservations about Carano taking the right steps for her career, Couture claims he understands the financial considerations underpinning why the UFC would want to make the bout between Carano and Rousey.
"I think from a business standpoint, absolutely, ZUFFA and the UFC are going to put a ton of money in their pockets for that fight whether they let Gina prepare properly or not," he contended. "That's not really a question. I think that's huge fight. For a long time Gina Carano was the queen of MMA. She is exactly what Ronda Rousey is to MMA right now. So, to have those two finally meet up, is a huge fight on the business side of things."
The problem for Couture is timing and taking the right opportunities. Like any other fight fan, he'd love to see the fight under the appropriate circumstances. But for the UFC Hall of Famer, until Carano is ready, it's not a move he's ready to endorse.
"Obviously, my loyalty and my concern is for Gina Carano and that she gets a fair shake and she gets to get up to speed, get a couple of fights under her belt and get back on track, get back into the former shape and former tactical prowess that we're used to seeing her at. To throw her right in against Ronda Rousey in the very first fight; Ronda is firing on ally cylinders right now, has been very active and is as sharp as she can be right now. That just doesn't make a lot of sense to me."