This story appears in the August 10 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
To see an ESPN The Magazine-produced video with Gina, please go here.
(1) This is just the beginning
"I run into tough females all the time, MMA women who have the talent to be headliners. Lots of really good women are coming. The stage is there with Showtime and the fan base is growing quickly. My long-awaited fight against Cris Cyborg (Aug. 15) will be the biggest moment for females so far."
(2) Women have unique issues
"I try not to schedule fights the week I'll be on my period. Making weight is hard enough and during our period, we may retain around seven pounds of water weight. Plus bruises hurt more, you're bloated and cramping and emotionally, it's tougher to battle through the training. Also, some states require us to wear breast padding, since we're allowed to punch there. One time I didn't have any; a guy told me to put a rolled-up towel in my bra. I said no. I usually just wear three sports bras during a fight."
(3) The distance just got longer
"Our rounds went from three minutes to five. A lot of women have jiujitsu backgrounds and they felt short rounds were an advantage for strikers; they felt they didn't have time to counter and work their submissions. I liked the old length. It's hard to get in shape for a 25-minute fight!"
(4) You can be both tough and tender
"Whenever a guy approaches me, I can see he's wondering, 'Can I take her?' Men underestimate women. If I had to fight a guy who thinks he's tough but doesn't train, I could leg-kick him until he collapses. So yes, I can beat up a guy. But I like being a female, too. I like to put on makeup and be held and feel girlie. It's not all about being tough."
(5) My heart's in fighting
"It's great not having a boyfriend before a fight. You have to go off and train and he always takes it personally. It's hard to date someone who doesn't know the lifestyle of a fighter. And a lot of male fighters aren't great dating material."
(6) Fights aren't limited to the cage
"It's not uncommon for women to start with me. I went to a bar with my sister recently and saw some women glaring at us. I remember thinking, I'm about to get into a fight. Luckily, when things got tense, some big guy bear-hugged me and said, "I'm a fan -- and I don't want to see you get arrested!"