Gina Carano, the so-called face of women’s mixed martial arts, took a big step forward Saturday, enduring a difficult weight cut and a tough opponent to notch her first submission victory.
The 140-pound striker was put down on the canvas hard in the opening moments of the fight, and faced an attack on her neck from Tonya Evinger. But Carano showed her guts by avoiding the choke and sweeping to half-guard, where she finally found relief.
“When she got me down, I knew I couldn’t freak and had to keep my composure,” said Carano, who remained unbeaten in five fights. “After reversing her, I considered standing up. But I’ve been practicing working on top, so I just went through with it.”
Billed as a quality grappler, Evinger (4-3) made the rudimentary error of giving up her back. Even though Carano’s a relative newcomer to the submission game, the Las Vegan, who fought with her parents in attendance, knew exactly what to do after sinking in hooks and securing back-control.
The rear-naked choke surprised no one more than Carano, who rejoiced by running around the cage.