ANAHEIM, Calif. -- With Ronda Rousey bringing women's mixed martial arts into the mainstream on Saturday night, it was inevitable talk would turn to the trailblazing fighter who paved her path.
Rousey successfully defended her UFC women's bantamweight title against a game Liz Carmouche in the main event of UFC 157 on Saturday night. The crowd of 15,525 was the largest for any mixed martial arts card over the seven years the Honda Center has hosted such events.
But Rousey might not have gotten the opportunity had Gina Carano not broken through first. Carano was the first big star of women's mixed martial arts, earning a devoted fan base through several nationally-televised fights in Elite XC and Strikeforce.
Carano hasn't fought since losing what was then called the Strikeforce welterweight title to Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos in San Jose in Aug. 2009 (which, prior to Saturday, boasted the women's MMA attendance record at 13,976). She's since gone on to a successful acting career.
UFC president Dana White isn't going to try to woo Carano back into the cage. But he indicated Saturday night after UFC 157 that if Carano decided she wanted to fight again, she'd be welcomed in the UFC.
"Gina's got her thing," White said. "I'm happy for her. Good for her. She hasn't told me, but I heard that she said she'd be interested in coming back. I'm not going to push her. I think it would be pretty cool if she wanted to come back."
Of course, while a Rousey vs. Carano superfight would seem to be a big-money draw, Carano would likely have trouble getting down to the bantamweight limit. Elite XC created a 140-pound title for Carano, a number she had difficult hitting on multiple occasions.
Either way, talk about a Carano return remains conjecture at this point.
"Gina's a movie star, man," White told reporters. "Gina's out making movies. I actually liked that she made it, and she went on and she's doing movies and things. I like that. I like to see that happening."