Unlike Cris Cyborg or Miesha Tate, UFC female bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey actually respects Gina Carano. She respects her so much that, even after almost five years away from MMA, Rousey is willing to put her belt on the line in an immediate championship match if Carano returns to the sport.
"I think it would be the best thing for women's MMA," said Rousey, during a media luncheon earlier this week in Los Angeles (thanks to MMAFighting.com for the quotes). "I think it would be the highest profile fight that could be done. I think it would make more sense to go straight to a title fight.
"I don't think it would make sense for her to come back and fight somebody else and take the risk of losing and not being able to capitalize on the fight between me and her. She's one of the pioneers of the sport. She's the reason I fight at all."
Rousey (9-0) is coming off a first round TKO victory over Sara McMann this past February. Like Carano, she is also working her way through Hollywood, receiving roles in several upcoming projects. She is set to be the lead female in the "Entourage" film, and also filmed scenes for "The Expendables 3" last year.
Carano (7-1) has been away from the MMA spotlight since a 2009 loss to Cyborg in Strikeforce. She selected a movie career full-time after that defeat, but has stated in recent interviews there remains an itch to return to fighting.
UFC president Dana White and Carano met earlier this week to discuss such a return. Her contract remains owned by Zuffa, which purchased it in the Strikeforce deal a few years ago.
"She's going to come back when she wants to sign," White said during the same press event. "She's the type of person like this one here (pointing to Rousey), she's not coming back just because. She's coming back because she wants the title."
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