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Exclusive: BodogFIGHT Women’s Champion Tara LaRosa clarifies contract status; speaks out against Gina Carano

 

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Over the weekend I attended the U.S. Grappling Championships in Delaware to support my wife and her teammates from her school, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu United. She ended up competing in the Advanced Absolute Division despite only being a white belt. One of her competitors was none other than BodogFIGHT Women’s Champion Tara LaRosa.

I chronicled the experience of my wife competing against LaRosa in an article titled “Grappling with the Champ.” After LaRosa was finished competing, she was gracious enough to grant me an interview in which she discussed her current contract status, whether she’s in fact had negotiations with EliteXC, and her feelings on Gina Carano.

Sam Caplan: You’ve competed at Abu Dhabi and you obviously compete in professional MMA as the BodogFIGHT women’s champion, but you’re here today at the U.S. Grappling Championships in Delaware. It’s not a small tournament, but not as big as some of the others out there. What brought you out to compete today?

Tara LaRosa: I had nothing to do today and I got off work at 4 o’clock in the morning and I figured, “Alright, let’s come on down and do it,” because one of our guys (from the Fight Factory) is fighting on a card right near here (Andrew “The Crow” Staiger on a Combat in the Cage amateur MMA event).

Sam Caplan: Ed Hsu’s show?

Tara LaRosa: Yes. So I thought I’d come on down here and hit up the tournament and that it would be a good time.

Sam Caplan: Are you training full-time at the Fight Factory now?

Tara LaRosa: Yep, I am a full-time member of the Philadelphia Fight Factory and I’m on the fight team.

Sam Caplan: What’s your status with BodogFIGHT right now?

Tara LaRosa: I’m in negotiations for a new contract with Bodog and I’m also in negotiations with some other organizations as well. So we’re trying to work something out where everybody is happy.

Sam Caplan: Can you talk about some of the other organizations that have approached you about a contract?

Tara LaRosa: EliteXC has approached me with a contract and we’re trying to iron out some of the wrinkles and see if we can work together. I’ve been approached by Fatal Femmes Fighting, which, at this time we’re not going forward with negotiations.

I was also supposed to fight on the Platinum Fighting Productions card in the Philippines and what happened with that was I was technically still under contract to Bodog until December 24. Even if my fight had passed they still have me for a few months so I needed to get a permission slip, if you will, to fight on the other show.

Well, I had to go through a lot of red tape and different people in the company to get that and I didn’t get it in time so they had to replace me on the card. At first I was mad about it but they replaced me with Amanda Buckner, who I think definitely deserved the spot and hasn’t fought in awhile. So I was happy with the replacement, and thus had no problems with that.

Sam Caplan: With EliteXC approaching you, at any point did they mention a possible match in the future with Gina Carano?

Tara LaRosa: We’ve discussed it (but) they don’t seem to be optimistic on me fighting her right now. I’m really not sure what they want to do with me since their weight classes are kind of skewered and I’m not going to fight at 140 and I’m not going to fight for three minute rounds. So I really don’t know what we can do but we’re trying to work things out.

They’re trying to build their women’s division so I may meet up with some of the people that I’ve seen before and they may bring in some new people as well.

Sam Caplan: If they were going to offer you a match with Gina Carano would you move up to 140 just for that match?

Tara LaRosa: I’m not sure if I’d move up to 140 or not. It’s of my personal opinion that 140 is not a weight division. 140 is a special division set up for one particular girl who can’t make weight and everybody else that has fought in EliteXC, outside of fights with Gina Carano, (such as) Shayna Baszler, they fought at 135, which is a true weight class. So I’ll fight at 135 if I’m fighting for EliteXC.

Sam Caplan: She’s (Gina Carano) been promoted as the face of women’s MMA but a lot of pundits consider you the number one pound-for-pound fighter in all of women’s MMA. Why not move up for a chance to fight her just to possibly change people’s opinions of her as the top female in MMA?

Tara LaRosa: I know I’m supposed to respond a certain way professionally and politically, but how can she be number one or even the face of (women’s MMA) when she’s been in the sport for less than two years? And she’s only got five fights against girls that are not top tier women in the world. No offense to her opponents; they are all great and they are making their way up through the ranks but they’re still not top caliber yet — not to say that they won’t be in the future.

I think EliteXC may be realizing their mistake as having promoted Gina as such (as the face of women’s MMA) because now that she’s sort of drifting off into other professions such as TV and movies and other things outside of the sport, she doesn’t seem to be taking MMA as a full-time job or as seriously as the rest of us have, as a career.

I’m disappointed that she hasn’t taken it more seriously as to be our representative.

Sam Caplan: You briefly touched on 140 not being an official weight class for women and she’s had trouble making 140, which was setup especially for her. Do you feel like maybe EliteXC is at fault for asking her to cut all the way to 140 or do you feel it’s on her to get down to that weight?

Tara LaRosa: It’s on her to get down to that weight. If she wants to be a professional fighter then she needs to treat this as a professional sport. The rest of us have all cut weight. Everybody from Randy Couture to Tito Ortiz to everyone down into the amateur divisions. Everybody cuts weight. Especially as a professional, it’s your professional obligation to make your contractual weight (the) same as everyone else, she’s nobody special.

Sam Caplan: I’m a layman when it comes to cutting weight. Is there something you see from your perspective that she’s not doing that she’s supposed to be doing in order to meet her contracted weight?

Tara LaRosa: I mean, I don’t know her personally. I don’t know her personal life. I don’t know what she does inside or outside of the gym. I’ve heard rumors that she doesn’t even train between fights so just by her physical appearance, she doesn’t seem to have the physical physique of someone that is in the gym doing cardio and watching their nutrition daily and stringently, especially for someone that should be fighting at the lower weight.

I myself at one point had hit 170. I used to walk around at 148 and fight at 135. I made weight every single time. I’ve never missed weight. And now I’m fighting at 125. I’d rather tap to strikes then miss weight. It’s embarrassing. I find it to be an embarrassment. The rest of us put it out there and the rest of us treat it as a professional endeavor. I hope perhaps that she’ll do the same in the future. Maybe she’s learned from her mistakes? She did say she was going to work with a nutritionist and something to that extent, which I really hope, especially since she’s our representative, I guess. I’d like for her to be more conscious of these such things.

24 COMMENTS
  • Gygax says:

    Great spot Sam. Tara is a true professional. She pulls no punches and is brutally honest. I get the feeling that she doesn’t resent Carano as much as she resents EliteXC for promoting Gina more on her looks than her actual skills and for making a weight class for her specifically.

    EliteXC will next be making a weight class of 142.5 for Gina. Followed by 165 for Nick Diaz as I’m sure he’ll say the cut was partially responsible for his past 2 lackluster performances. That’s the problem when EliteXC starts messing with the generally accepted weight classes as outlined in the Unified Rules of MMA. I’m a fan of Carano, but always thought it was crap that they created a weight class for her, just like they did for Nick Diaz.

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  • Dizzle says:

    I’d rather see Carano on screen with a nice big smile and a nice big…well u know where I’m getting at.

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  • Evan says:

    “she doesn’t seem to be taking MMA as a full-time job or as seriously as the rest of us have, as a career.”

    Gina was also a major player on the “fight girls” TV show helping grow the sport. She is all over the place doing interviews helping grow the sport. When I see clips of her talking she is promoting the sport and not doing reality TV shows getting a make over.

    Because of her Tara had this interview and because of her people will read it, not many people cared about female MMA before she came around

    Because of her Tara will have a bigger paycheck after every fight

    Because of her women are getting their fights shown on TV

    Seems to me a lot has come out of her hard work

    So maybe she should rethink her taking it seriously… Especially she is admittedly talking about rumors.

    By the way…Gina trains at Xtreme Couture.

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  • Grape Knee High says:

    “Lehman”?

    Do you mean “layman”?

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  • […] SNAP! December 18, 2007 at 2:25 pm by fightlinker Tara LaRosa dishes it out against Gina Carano: Sam Caplan: If they were going to offer you a match with Gina Carano would you move up to 140 just […]

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  • Jay K. says:

    Sarcastically speaking, who did you actually interview?

    Gina Carano or Tara?

    The interview sounded like a summary of Gina’s situation rather than learning more about Tara and her background.

    Jay K.

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  • Sam Caplan says:

    Jay, it’s a valid criticism. Hopefully I can get another interview with Tara soon that will have a greater focus on her career. I just threw the Gina question out there and she seemed pretty passionate in her response, so I decided to pursue it.

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  • Zack says:

    Though most of Tara’s criticisms are valid, the only reason I even pay attention to women’s MMA is because of Gina. She’s very charismatic and has “star” quality.

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  • Ivan Trembow says:

    Tara LaRosa is the best female fighter in North America, and everyone who has seen her fights against Amanda Buckner or Shayna Baszler (who are arguably #2 and #3 in North America) knows that.

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  • THORAZINE says:

    I think TARA LAROSA has some valid points but GINA CARANO happens to have the looks and charisma that promotes the sport.. I’m sorry it isn’t TARA LAROSA… However, TARA LAROSA should build on that and challenge LAROSA to make 136lbs and at worst go up to 140 and fight her… In the meantime I think it benefits MMA that CARANO is promoting the women’s sport… yeah’ she’s slacking a little on the actual fights, making weight or training, but she is doing something the sport really needs… a face!

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  • THORAZINE says:

    I mean LAROSA should Challenge CARANO in one weight class or the other..sorry

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  • Ivan Trembow says:

    and which weight class is that, Thorazine? The one that has traditionally been a weight class, 135 pounds, or the one that EliteXC more or less created?

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  • Ike says:

    We all know that Tara would clobber Gina at ANY weight. Gina has ZERO ground game, whereas Tara’s an all-round monster in the ring. If people want to see this fight, they know nothing about women’s MMA. Gina is the Anna Kournikova of MMA, and we all know what happened to that girl’s pro tennis career. Still, if people want to see Gina and Tara fight, then so be it. It will put an end to the Gina Carano farce that currently attracts the wrong element to this wonderful sport. MMA doesn’t need a good looking poster girl. It needs your respect.

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  • KiNGBiLL says:

    You guys bringing up Gina’s looks should just go watch some porn, Tara is the best pound for Pound woman fighter in MMA period.

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  • Fe-mma says:

    Tara or Shayna (who has actually worked her way through the organization and DESERVES a shot) BOTH would make quick work of Gina and anyone that pays attention knows this. Which is exactly why EliteXC will do everything they can to put either of the matchups off as long as they can………

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  • Planet F says:

    I used to have a lot of respect for Tara Larosa, but with each interview she has trashing Carano, she loses more of my respect.

    Regarding weight divisions in women’s MMA, Josh Barnett (who’s training Shayna) admitted that women’s MMA is so new that there really are no officially sanctioned weight divisions at this point. Everyone agreed to fight at one weight (135 lbs).

    The real question is why is there really only one weight division for women at this point? And Larosa’s and every critics’ insistence that Carano fight at this weight is worse than the misogynistic Hollywood model crap where they require you to be a size zero. And then to scream when she’s 1/10th of one pound overweight? I guess Larosa would’ve preferred that Carano strip off her clothes in front of a group of horny guys at the weigh in to make a weight everyone knew she would make if she removed her shorts. I know guy fighters do this (but they’re in a room full of men).

    If Larosa wants to be the standard bearer of women’s MMA, why doesn’t she do the things a standard bearer does instead of shoot off her mouth and trash other women fighters? Like promote more weight classes for women than forcing her sisters to cut such extreme weight they could die? No one mentions that when Gina fought Elaina Maxwell at 150 that Maxwell was a pound overweight than Gina and Gina accepted this with no argument or drama.

    Also, how come so many women fighters fight women with bigger weight differences than Carano ever has had for her fights and do so willingly? Women are fighting other women who sometimes are 25 lbs overweight because of the lack of competition. What is Larosa doing to bring more women into this sport to change this? Is she training other women like Carano has at Extreme Couture or Master Toddy’s? Is she challenging her promoters for better pay days (and has the face and recognition to do this successfully) which will help all women in the sport get the pay and recognition their due for the risks they take? And has she built the mainstream awareness of the sport through major network exposure (as Carano’s about to do on American Gladiators on NBC and has on Oxygen, MSNBC)?

    Also, all this talk about Carano having no ground game… She has gotten more criticism for this than anyone in the sport. Everyone knows that every mixed martial artist has one area of strength and specialty. This is a natural part of the sport. Some guys are grapplers, others are stand up guys. No one makes a big deal of this, except about Carano. And every mixed martial artist has a choice when they step into the cage to try and control the fight and bring it into their favorite specialty (such as keeping it standing, going to the ground, etc.)

    A recent network special on MMA talked about this issue… about how every fighter has an area of specialty and they try to control the fight in this way. They even did demonstrations on sprawling for guys who are mainly stand up and don’t want to take the bout to the ground. So Larosa likes to go to the ground and Gina stands and bangs… who cares???

    As for Larosa being the best fighter, I used to think this was the case. But seeing how Julie Kedzie (since she switched over to Jackson’s) dropped Kelly Kobald every time she landed a kick and seeing how Kelly Kobald nearly beat Larosa, Julie Kedzie might be close to being the best in the world. Maybe eventually a rematch between her and Carano would be more appropriate than with Larosa who probably isn’t even near Carano’s weight class. Carano is naturally a bigger fighter and Larosa looks like she probably has to fight to keep on the weight at 135.

    Also, Larosa likes to brag about how she could easily beat Carano. Yes, Larosa has far more fights and experience than Carano. She could beat her. The real question is, “Why would she want to?” Why would she take on a fight with someone she knows is far less experienced? Do champions do this?

    Carano never admitted to being the best fighter, matter of fact she has said she’s not the best fighter at this point. Carano says Larosa is. She admits she’s still developing. This “face of women’s MMA” is something a promoter created to help their promotion and increase visibility for women in this sport resulting in hopefully all women (including Larosa) can get better pay days. It has nothing to do with a sports record. I would hope Larosa and others would be smart enough to recognize this. The fact that they don’t loses my respect.

    I’m sure Carano has had some hand in insisting that Larosa and others be brought into EliteXC (which is providing the biggest stage of visibility for women right now). I noticed that once Carano said she wanted to fight Larosa eventually, that EliteXC ponied up a contract for Larosa. The real question is if Larosa has the class to fight Carano when the time is appropriate for both? When two equals face each other in the cage, not Carano on a suicide mission where another jealous fighter wants to take some promotional tagline away from her.

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  • Beqwith says:

    You don’t call someone out and then use a five pound weight differential as an excuse not to back your talk up.

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  • Tre' says:

    very VERY good post by Planet F. also I think anyone who believes Larosa would beat Carano anymore is dreaming. she MIGHT have had a chance earlier when Carano had just started MMA. not that it isn’t still possible but Larosa would have to get extremely lucky and hope Carano is busy with other things and out of shape. people seem to forget Tara has never faced a striker of Gina’s caliber the closest being 5 years ago against Howe who KO’d Larosa. Kelly Kobald also almost beat Larosa and Kobald got worked by Julie Kedzie who Carano decisively bounced all over the cage even back when she was just getting started.

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  • 125technician says:

    Tara has never called Carano out. Every time there is an interview all everyone wants to know about is gina carano. Imagine how frustrating it would be to start in this game when women were laughed at, and fighting for 50 bucks a fight. Tara says she used to get offers all the time to fight in bikinis and jello, but she turned em all downinstead she battles on and finally when things start to turn around for womens MMA, rather than focusing on Tara Larosa and Amanda buckner, or Shayna Baszler, they focus on a pretty face. Tara has absolutely no want to fight Gina Carano, Why would the top woman in the world move up a weight to fight someone with less than 5 pro fights? But until she does everyone will try to say that she is “ducking her”. Tara is a friend of mine and considering she is one of the most talented fighters on the planet( man or women) she is extremely humble. But she’s also from Jersey….so she’s also kind of a b**ch, and she’s probably getting damn sick of hearing about another fighter every time she is interviewed. I would like to see Carano fight Shayna Baszler or Amanda Buckner, or at least hitomi Akano before she steps up to fight Tara.

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  • Anguissette says:

    Well, Carano’s 6-0 now people, obviously more than just a pretty face. I just don’t understand why these women hate her. As stated before, she’s basically bringing a massive amount of attention to women’s MMA, which should be appreciated. If anything, why can’t these other fighters have more of a neutral approach to Carano? So she’s getting more attention, get over it. If Carano was a crappy fighter and just attractive, I don’t believe she’d have so many fans. It’s the fact that she kicks ass in the ring and is an attractive woman at the same time. It’s all about appeal you guys. Oh yes, and God forbid, she’s weighing in at 140 at 5’8″. Also, thank you Planet F for the awesome post!

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  • FFaith says:

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too. I would have never even known about any of these fighters if it wasn’t for Carano and her publicity. Carano is a good fighter… she just happens to be pretty. It is not like she has lost every fight she has participated in, isn’t capable of kicking butt, or is putting on an act. The girl has fight. And if Taro is the best, why not teach Carano a thing or two in a match. If she is truly that good, fight her. What is the worst that can happen? She will probably get interview questions like: “How did it feel to take down Carano?” At least this way the questions are relevant.

    Sure I can understand how frustrating it must be for a person to be asked about another person every time they are interviewed… but the main question is: Do you want the interview or not?. If yes, then thank Carano. Free publicity. At least your name is getting out there and the sport is getting recognition. (And all of these fighters want to be known.)

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  • Alaina says:

    I agree with the last comment. I would have never known who Larosa, or a lot of other fighters were without Carano. Yeah, ,she’s beautiful, but no one can deny she can fight. If Larosa had the chance to bring as much publicity to the sport, and herself, of course she would. She should be thankful her career has more possibilities. And no we don’t know who the best fighter in the world is, but turning down fights wont help us find out. I say stop running your mouth about your competitors and get in the ring.

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  • Nicky Roose says:

    I think a lot of Larosa supporters are forgetting that outside of the hardcore’s almost everyone wants to see some banging. I was a wrestler and enjoy watching groundwork, a lot of my friends also enjoy it, but the majority of viewers want to see some real punches being thrown. Obviously most think that groundwork isn’t just “gay foreplay” but like to see knockouts. I didn’t know Carano from anything but the girl can throw. And she like all strikers has a chance to beat anyone on one punch, kick, slam.

    Why in the hell is there one weight-class? And that sucks but still. refusing to concede five pounds does matter but in no ways trumps skills and experience. I myself had to wrestle in a 265 pound weight class while I only weighed 220. Such is fighting. Sometimes if you want to show people who you are you must make sacrifices. And it is laughable to say professionals make weight at whatever arbitrary weight class is decided. This is the stupidest thing I’ve heard. There are weight classes every ten punds. 140 is perfectly legitimate and so is 145 or 150 so is 125 or 110 but you must have options.

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  • Nicky Roose says:

    Furthermore, why doesn’t she want to fight three minute rounds? where does that come from? Especially because she is in good shape and apparently has lots of confidence in her own aerobic fitness as opposed to Carano’s. Why is that?

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