Carano began her training with straight Muay Thai to competitive MMA, where she competed in Strikeforce and EliteXC. She was featured in ESPN The Magazine as well as Maxim. Her popularity led to her being called the "face of women's MMA" (although Carano herself rejected the title) and was ranked 5th on a list of the "Top 10 Influential Women" of 2008. In August 2009, Carano fought Cris Cyborg in Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg, the first time two women headlined a major MMA event; Cyborg won. Carano compiled a competitive record of 12–1–1 in Muay Thai and a 7–1 in women's MMA.