Sports on the Edge - Gina Carano: Caged Heat

Gina Carano: Caged Heat

The fighter battling inside and outside the cage

Name: Gina Carano

Who She Is: Undefeated mixed martial arts fighter

Why She's Fearless: Carano is the only woman on Maxim's Hot 100 list who's ever submitted someone via rear naked choke. Her devastating kickboxing skills and improving ground game have earned her an unblemished 7-0 record, while her bombshell looks have landed her in pin-up shots, video games, action figures and acting roles (you might know her as "Crush" on the recent "American Gladiators" reboot). That combination of the fierce and the foxy has also earned her the title "the face of women's MMA" as the poster child for female fighters trying to earn respect in a field dominated by men. She takes a giant step forward on that path on August 15 when she returns to the cage to face an opponent seemingly straight from a Hollywood casting call — a sculpted, tatted-out menace they call "Cyborg" (even Carano's opponent calls the fight "beauty and the beast"). The event, carried live on Showtime, will mark the first time female fighters have competed in the main event of a major mixed martial arts card.

(Check out more photos of Gina's remarkable career.)

Most Fearless Moment: A former kickboxing champion, Carano is devastating in the cage, stopping three of her opponents by knockout and another by submission. Still, she feels far more pressure in the role of spokesmodel that's been thrust upon her. "I want to think they call me the face of women's MMA because I have skills, but I know that's not the case," she says. A recent press event hyping her Showtime fight drew a throng of admirers (both aspiring young girls and overheated men) and reporters, most seemingly uninterested in her opponent. The attention often veers into the intrusive — video from a recent fight weigh-in where she stripped down to make weight went viral, and private pics of hard partying moments have turned up online. "What happens in the cage is a lot easier to deal with," she says. "Just living the life I'm living and doing it with my full heart, that's probably my most fearless moment."

Expert Testimony: "She is a very technical fighter with a background and emphasis in striking, particularly Muay Thai," says Randy Couture, a mixed martial arts legend, and owner of Xtreme Couture, where Carano trains in the cage with her male counterparts. "Some guys are taken aback because she's attractive and gets a lot of attention publicly, but Gina is talented athletically with a warrior spirit.... I believe her most fearless moment is about to occur on August 15."