Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gina Carano and The Dwayne Johnson Effect

All the Mixed Martial Arts world is buzzing with the recent string of stars making their way to Hollywood, picking the bright lights and minimal bruising of the silver screen over the beatdowns and bloody lips that come with the cage.

While most fighters-turned-actors have landed supporting roles (see Jackson, Quinton) or the lead in direct-to-DVD sequels (see Couture, Randy), Gina Carano is taking things one step further, landing the lead role in Academy Award winning director Steven Soderbergh's Knockout.

When discussing this growing trend on the most recent Watch Kalib Run Cage Cast, an interesting and very plausible analogy for Carano's career moving forward came to mind.

Is Gina Carano set to become the Dwayne Johnson of Mixed Martial Arts?

For those who have shied away from the squared circle since the days of Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka or simply choose to deny their former love of wrestling, Dwayne Johnson is better known to some as former WWE champion "The Rock," easily the greatest crossover success the wrestling world has produced to date.

Following his rise from young up-and-comer to world champion, Johnson began branching out into the acting world, a natural move for the highly-charismatic potential leading man. His first leading role came as the titular character in The Scorpion King, a role that netted him the largest salary for a first-time lead actor in movie history.

From then on, his in-ring appearances became less frequent, as more movies followed, until the point came where "The Rock" was just a part-time wrestler, while Dwayne Johnson focused on being a full-time actor.

The potential parallels with Carano are obvious, just as her decision to capitalize on this opportunity makes perfect sense as well.

While countless troglodytes and trolls have left comment after comment criticizing this move or voicing their prepubescent fantasies for a nude scene throughout the online community, the fact of the matter is that Carano should make in the neighborhood of ten-times more to make this film than she does for getting punched in the face.

It doesn't take an accountant to tell you that that is a wise financial decision.

Just as Johnson saw the need to strike while the iron was hot and his career was on the upswing, the same applies to Carano now.

Here name recognition and mainstream popularity have never been higher, coming off the massive promotional push of her fight with Cris Cyborg, her role on American Gladiators and he presence in the pages of Maxim Magazine.

Additionally, Carano, like Johnson before her, understands that her in-ring activities won't last forever, and the chance to open a new avenue for life after fighting cannot be missed, especially when the one presenting the option is Steven Soderbergh.

The director of Traffic, Erin Brockovich and the Ocean's Eleven series has said Knockout will be a female James Bond-type adventure, which immediately brings the word "franchise" into play.

But what will all this mean for her career in the cage?

Obviously, a return to the ring in the near future is out of the question, as starring in a major motion picture is not a three week vacation to remote locations.

After filming is complete, the comparison with "The Rock" has the potential to play out even more.

Strikeforce has already displayed a willingness to allow high-profile fighters the opportunity to pursue other endeavors (see Le, Cung) and Carano should be no different.

Much like Johnson was booked into short storylines and given a major push during his sporadic returns to the ring, expect the same with Carano when it comes to fighting.

One highly-publicized, well-promoted fight between acting opportunities is not unreasonable to expect, as Caranao remains "The Face of Women's MMA" and one of the most marketable mixed martial artists period.

In fact, the lack of depth in the female Strikeforce ranks works in Carano's favor as well.

With few credible challengers established enough to sell an event alongside "The Brawling Beauty," Strikeforce can invest some time into building an opponent before putting pen to paper on a contract with Carano, thereby allowing her the time to scratch her acting itch.

While picking an acting gig over an established fight is a little questionable ** cough Rampage cough ** using your time away from the ring to put a little money in the bank for your post-fight career cannot be criticized.

Gina Carano may still be "The Face of Women's MMA," but the opportunity to be the face of a potential action movie franchise is one you don't turn down.

And that's the bottom line, because Stone... oh wait, wrong wrestler.


  1. Did you decide to use E because you thought it would make you seem like more of a "freelancer"? I only ask because I notice that E is not in your email address, which I imagine would have been created long before you became a freelancer.

  2. The email address was created long before I discovered my passion for writing.

    The use of E is a tribute to my grandfather, a man I miss dearly every day and one who encouraged me to chase my dreams and pursue my passions.

  3. Since women's fighting pays about 1/10th of what men's mma pays it would be a no brainer to stick with doing movies. Gina can make a decent six figure income now without being punched in the

  4. I have just known that Gina Carano is also mixed martial arts fighter. I think that she is just an Italian-American model, actress. I give my appreciation to her because of her multi talent. She is not only an actress but also martial arts fighter.

  5. At the first time I knew that she is an MMA fighter, I was really shocked. She is so pretty, so beautiful, I think she suits well to be a model. But to be an MMA fighter? Wow,, she is not like other beautiful girl in common.


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