An openly gay fighter will take the ring in tonight’s first-ever women’s fight of the Ultimate Fighter Championship (UFC).
Liz Carmouche, an out lesbian, is the first openly gay fighter to ever participate in the UFC, a mixed martial arts promotion company that until now has only hosted men’s fights.
The hugely popular UFC tournaments are known as male-dominated sporting events with brutal fighting styles that aren’t necessarily synonymous with women’s or LGBT rights, until tonight.
Carmouche, a former helicopter technician for the US Marines, will take on opponent Ronda Rousey in five-minute rounds enclosed in an octagon cage for the UFC women’s bantamweight title. The fighting match will be broadcast via Pay-Per-View to people in over 150 countries.
Since publicly coming out of the closet in 2009, Carmouche has catapaulted as a spokesperson for women and gay people in sports.
In an interview with US politics website AMERICAblog, Carmouche revealed that she was closeted in the armed forces under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the military’s policy prohibiting out service members that was repealed in 2011, stating ‘it took me getting out of the marine corps for me to actively come out’.
Though Carmouche’s upcoming fight has put a positive spin on the UFC’s position on homosexuality, the mixed-martial arts company hasn’t always had the cleanest record with regards to the LGBT community.
In 2009 UFC president Dana White produced a video blog clip where he called an anonymous writer ‘a pu**y and a f**king f**got‘. White was responding the critiques on his managing style that the anonymous writer had posted on the UFC website. White has since gone public with saying that those homophobic comments are the biggest regrets in his 12-year career.
On Friday afternoon at a press event for tonight’s Carmouche vs. Rousey fight, White again addressed the issue of homosexuality in the UFC.
‘I could care less,’ said White about fighters coming out as gay. ‘If you are a guy, and you are gay, and you come out in the UFC, it will not change anything whatsover in how you are marketed or your performance or your relationship with this company.
‘I can’t speak on what it’s like to be gay, but i would imagine there’s some people who are dying to do it’.
White has accompanied Carmouche on several interviews to show his support of her competing as an openly gay fighter.
‘I applaud her’.
Check out the video below for Carmouche’s full interview with AMERICAblog.