by Dann Stupp on Nov 23, 2008 at 2:15 pm ET
Add Strikeforce to the growing list of organizations that is interested in Gina Carano's services.
Actually, we should say Strikeforce is "interested again" in the undefeated fighter's services.
After all, it was Strikeforce that first took a gamble on an unproven Carano and put her on a major card before it was a popular thing to do.
Although Carano had excelled in Muay Thai with a stellar 12-1-1 record, she was still a bit of an unknown in the MMA world back in 2006. In her MMA debut, she first defeated Leiticia Pestova at a June 2006 WEF event. Carano then garnered some attention for a second-round knockout of U.K. stand-out Rosi Sexton at a September 2006 WPFC show,.
Then came Strikeforce, a rookie promotion that set a then-North American MMA attendance record with 17,465 paid attendees in its debut show in March 2006. Nine months after the successful event, the organization returned to San Jose for "Triple Threat," and Carano was offered a slot on the card.
Carano met San Shou kickboxing champion Elaina Maxwell at the event. The surprisingly proficient fight, which took place in front of more than 8,000 fans, won over the crowd and has since proven to be a pivotal bout in the growth of women's MMA.
However, Carano never fought for Strikeforce again and instead opted to sign a long-term deal with EliteXC, where she was one of the organization's biggest draws and most popular stars. However, the organization is now on its deathbed and, barring a miracle, unlikely to promote another event.
EliteXC's fighters' contracts have since been tied up as Showtime tries to recoup loans EliteXC's parent company never repaid, and many EliteXC fighters, Carano included, are now stuck in a state of limbo.
Assuming the legal mess is resolved, Strikeforce officials aren't opposed to Carano returning to its organization.
"We'd love to have Gina fighting for us again," said Strikeforce spokesperson Mike Afromowitz after the Nov. 21 "Destruction" event. "We'd love to have her back, but we're a little restricted right now. There are a lot of legal issues. So when we're allowed to, we'll talk. But have to wait."
Strikeforce isn't the only organization with interest, though. Many regional promotions want Carano, and even UFC President Dana White recently raved about Carano's skills and said he'd consider putting her in the UFC's sister company, the WEC, which airs on Versus. Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio has also expressed interest, specifically for a fight with Carano's EliteXC rival Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos.
Strikeforce, though, could present an attractive package: good pay, main-card exposure and even a potential network-television audience. Taped Strikeforce fights now air on NBC as a weekly highlights show, and as MMAjunkie.com
) recently reported, NBC could soon launch live events on the network.
Carano, 26, last competed in October at "EliteXC: Heat" and defeated Kelly Kobold (16-3-1) via a lopsided unananimous-decision victory.