Transgendered MMA fighter Fallon Fox is battling for a place in the octagon.
The world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is all abuzz over the emergence of one of the sport’s newest fighters. Who’d have thought the fans and fighters of the bloodiest sport on the planet would get so excited about a ladyboy? You wouldn’t think that putting the T in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) would arouse such passion. But in the last few weeks Fallon Fox, a woman who used to be a man, has got the MMA world harder than any ladyboy act in Nana Plaza ever managed to achieve with its audience. But then considering the high number of hotties fighting under the UFC banner, it’s no surprise that WBA light heavyweight Champion Bernard Hopkins once said of the sport that “The UFC and MMA is gay porn.” And when L, G, and B are already well represented, you know the T is soon to follow.
I came late to the party known as mixed martial arts but am now a big fan of the sport. Decades ago it blipped onto my radar, but at that time it was a hodgepodge collection of instantly forgeable fighters and appeared to be the bastard son of professional wrestling and boxing whose sole intent was allowing two guys to beat each other bloody in the name of athleticism. Not that I couldn’t get behind the blood, ferocity, or damage done. It was that the fighters were either clownishly fat or lesbian ugly. If you want gay men as fans of your sport, beefcake is of primary importance. My how things have changed.
My interest re-emerged thanks to an article I wrote about Dakota Chocrane, a contestant on the UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) reality television show. Or Danny as he was – and I think still is – better known. Under his Danny moniker Dakota appeared in over a dozen Sean Cody videos, proving that though he may not be a champion in the cage, he was at having gay sex. With an ass made for bottoming, he quickly became a gay internet porn legend. As a UFC fighter, not so much.
Roger Huerta is a prime example of why gay men should be big fans of MMA.
Besides having an ass blessed by the gods, Dakota was cute enough to further stir my, um, interest, and having failed to catch his award-worthy performances in the past I Googled my little ass off to check out his body. Of work. Early in his career he did battle with a collection of dildos – it was hard to tell who won. And so was he. That was enough to convince me the next time I was channel surfing I needed to stop and watch a MMA fight. And the rest is history.
I’m not saying UFC fighters are gay – well, except for that cutey Dominic Cruz – but how any gay man worth his salt can’t be a fan of the sport is beyond me. As is how any straight fan of the sport manages to reconcile his enjoyment of watching incredibly fit almost naked men with bulging crotches and muscular buttocks lovingly draped in sweat laden shorts . . . ‘scuze me for a minute, I’ll be right back – something just came up.
If you ignore what their sport does to their ears, with the likes of Roger Huerta, Urijah Faber, Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida – not to mention the rest of the incredible roster of hotties coming out of Brazil – Hollywood’s leading men pale in comparison. And don’t get me started on Benson Henderson. Or actually, please let me get started on Benson Henderson. How Channing Tatum can be called The Sexiest Man Alive when one look at Georges St-Pierre’s muscular thighs and beautifully proportioned bubble butt proves otherwise is inconceivable. But then all of that male beauty is part of the problem and part of the reason homophobia has reared its ugly head in the MMA with Fallon Fox’s recent admission that she used to be a he.
The mighty thighs of Benson Henderson.
In a sport where a majority of wins are thanks to one fighter offering up his backside in submission, and with winning moves known, for example, as a rear naked choke hold, MMA fighters – who spend so much of their time between the legs of another man, – are quick to defend their heterosexuality. And are often as unsuccessful at that task as they frequently are in defending their titles. Those who doth protest too much make you wonder. Meanwhile, champs who openly support marriage equality, for example – as both Benson Henderson and Rashad Evans have – have the opposite effect. To my great disappointment.
While Fallon Fox’s lack of dick has MMA fans so upset they can barely find their bottle of lube, the lesbians have already successfully staked their claim in the UFC. Late last year after years of stating it’d never happen, UFC President Dana White finally allowed women to fight in his little bitchfest. And big surprise, a dyke immediately appeared. Liz Carmouche, a former Marine who, it goes without saying, also happens to be gay, was the underdog half of the card in the UFC’s very first women’s title fight. She lost. But the bout was a significant moment for her and for the sport – it was the first time an openly gay fighter of either gender has fought in the UFC. We’ve come a long way baby. But have an even longer way still to go.
Of course straight men have never really had much of a problem with lesbians. Especially when there are two of them in the picture and neither looks like your ugly spinster aunt. That no one raised an eyebrow over Carmouche’s preference for partners with the same sexual equipment as she has isn’t a surprise. When it comes to gay men grappling in the ring, however, the UFC’s history of acceptance is spotty. Though, like with the rest of the country’s opinion on marriage equality, things are rapidly improving. Back in 2009, White – who once famously threw a tantrum because a male fighter stepped into the ring wearing a pair of lavender shorts – was at the center of the sport’s problem of homophobia when he referred to someone associated with a fighter as a faggot. And announcer Joe Rogen and mega-star Rampage Jackson used the same word in public too with little to no outrage within the MMA world. Two years later, White’s attitude seemed to have changed. As did his vocabulary. ““I could care less if there’s a gay fighter in the UFC. There probably is and there’s probably more than one,” he said during a press conference soon after signing Cochrane – who claimed to be straight despite his history in gay porn – to appear on TUF.
The #1 ass in the UFC ((Um, no, not Dana White.)
Today White says he believes there is room within the MMA world for gay men. “Any guy involved in grappling is the furthest thing from homophobic in the world,” he said. “I honestly think it would have no impact whatsoever with not only our fighters or our fan base. Honestly, it wouldn’t be a big deal to me and most of the guys I know in this sport, it wouldn’t be a big deal for them either.”
Did you hear that Dominic?
More recently, when asked after the Rousey-Carmouche bitch fight whether he could see a straight male fighter refusing to fight a gay male fighter, White shot down the idea and promised retribution if a fighter were to ever utter homophobic biases. “Most of the guys that are in this sport are really good people,” he said. “I honestly don’t see a situation where that would happen, but if it did, I’d fix it.” White even touched on the criticisms he and the UFC has faced in the past for their history of homophobia. “Some of our guys, and I have said some things that make it look like we’re homophobes,” he said. “But we’re not, and we’ve apologized.”
However, White’s view of what constitutes being homophobic does not evidently extend to transgendered fighters. While many in the sport grapple with the idea of a woman fighter who used to be a man, their lack of understanding of the transgendered world allows for statements being made that while to them may sound logical really only serve to show there’s a difference between lip service and being free of homophobic thoughts. At least among those who attempt to sound politically correct.
Dakota Chocrane and his talented tail.
White has avoided the controversy stirred by Fallon Fox by pointing at her current record (Pro: 1-0-0 Amateur: 3-0-0) and scoffing at the idea that she is anywhere near ready to be signed to fight in the UFC. And though he cherishes being the voice of the sport, he allowed an unidentified spokesperson to issue the official statement accompanying the suspension of fighter Matt Mitrione last Monday for the vitriolic and hate filled remarks he made about Fox during an interview on The MMA Hour, a suspension of indefinite time which the less generous claim has more to do with the UFC’s ongoing battle to be legalized in New York than it does with the comment he made.
While the UFC said, “The organization finds Mr. Mitrione’s comments offensive and wholly unacceptable,” Mitrione’s remarks probably paint a truer picture of the sport’s current attitude toward transgendered fighters. During the interview, when asked why he seemed to have such a hatred toward Fox, Mitrione said, “ Because she’s not a he. He’s a he. He’s chromosomally a man. He had a gender change, not a sex change. He’s still a man. He was a man for 31 years. Thirty-one years. That’s a couple years younger than I am. He’s a man. Six years of taking performance de-hancing drugs, you think is going to change all that? That’s ridiculous.”
His suspension from fighting – which many predict will end to coincide with the date of his next scheduled bout – was due to his follow-up comments: “That is a lying, sick, sociopathic, disgusting freak. And I mean that,” he said. “The woman that’s fighting him, props to you. I hope you beat his ass, and I hope he gets blackballed and never fights again, because that’s disgusting and I’m appalled by that.”
Dominic Cruz strikes a hetro pose. For once.
Jon Koppenhaver, who fights under the name of War Machine – and who was, incidently, arrested back in 2009 during a bar fight at the alternative gay nightclub Krave in Las Vegas where he worked as a topless bottle server – too has recently spewed his own brand of hatred about Fox, saying, “Every MMA female fighter out there should just refuse to fight her because it’s bullshit, and then she’ll have nowhere to fight. Any show that signs her is a piece of shit show. She’s a fucking dude, you want me to cut off my dick and beat the shit out of Ronda Rousey the UFC champion? That’s what would happen. It’s not fair she’s a dude.”
White and the UFC have not responded to War Machine’s statement, though that may have more to do with the fact that thanks to his continued arrests for fighting outside of the cage he has not been allowed to fight professionally since his TKO win over Roger Huerta in 2011. But it is interesting that War Machine brought up Rousey’s name, as she recently took her own harsh shots at Fox
Rousey, the reigning UFC women’s champion – who you’d think would be a bit more understanding of a class trying to break into the UFC since her belt only came into existence this year – said she got the point that Mitrione was attempting to make but didn’t approve of the language he used. “I understand the UFC doesn’t want to be associated with views like that,” she said. “I’m also glad they didn’t straight cut him.”
Urijah Faber is sexy as all hell when he doesn’t have his hair in corn rows.
Rousey told The New York Post that she competed in judo against hermaphroditic athletes but said that fighting a post-operative transgendered woman is different. “It’s not something that happened to her,” she said. “It was a decision she made. She should be aware in her career after that, it’s going to be an arduous path. It’s going to draw a lot of emotions.”
Rousey did say that she would – reluctantly – accept a bout against transgendered fighter Fallon Fox, although she feels such a fight wouldn’t be fair. “She can try hormones, chop her pecker off, but it’s still the same bone structure a man has,” Rousey told the newspaper. “It’s an advantage. I don’t think it’s fair. What if she became UFC champion and we had a transgender women’s champion? It’s a very socially difficult situation.”
Yes, those “socially difficult situations” can be a bitch. Kinda like letting women fighters into the octagon.
Rousey, who undoubtedly believes hers is a voice of reason in questioning what is fair rather than attacking a fighter for being transgendered, is a good example of when someone’s homophobic beliefs weigh in more heavily than what their otherwise politically correct stance suggests. Mitrione, as disgusting as his verbal attack on Fox was, is not generally perceived as being homophobic, as evidenced by his involvement with a Toronto-based anti-bullying campaign earlier this year. Even an industry reporter who routinely champions gay rights in sports – while noting the hatred and vitriol Fox has received is wrong and reflects poorly on the sport and its fan base – believes the question of whether or not it is appropriate for a transgender fighter to fight women is a valid subject of debate.
Been there, done that. Thailand can serve as an example on how to treat a ladyboy in the ring.
But is it? Debate, or discussion, is good when it provides the information and the time people need to dispense with their ignorance. And that may, eventually, hold true in this issue. But before you can adjust your way of thinking, before you can address the problem with your beliefs, you have to recognize you have a problem. You have to realize your opinion is fundamentally wrong, that it is not one based in fact but rather one stemming from emotion. And ignorance. The current opinion that it is not about transgendered people but rather it’s about the ‘fairness’ of a fighter who was once a man now fighting women as a woman, while sounding reasonable really boils down to the ‘freak of nature’ argument. It’s not unlike those who still argue against marriage equality. It is about a starting point based in ignorance no different than the one that allows Jeremy Irons to wonder if when same-sex marriage is legalized if fathers then will marry their sons as a ploy to avoid estate taxes.
While there have not been extensive studies done on those who make the male-to-female transition as it applies to athletic performance, research conducted in Amsterdam showed that a year of hormone replacement therapy results in a decline of thigh muscle mass to a point where it is nearly equal to pre-treatment female-to-male transsexuals. So much for the concern that Fox, who underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2006 and has since been on hormone therapy, may have an unfair advantage over female competitors. Compare Fox’s body structure to any one of the top ranked female MMA fighters, and you don’t even need to consider the issue of hormone therapy. Anyone not familiar with the fighters would be hard pressed to identify which have gone through gender reassignment surgery and which have not. And most who guess would get it wrong.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) – not known to be the most forward thinking body when it comes to issues such as this one – has already addressed this subject. And the Association of Boxing Commissions, the organization that standardize rules for combat sports nationwide, has adopted a policy that aligns itself with the IOC’s decision that while every individual should be assessed on a case-by-case basis in determining the gender of that competitor, any athlete – like Fox – who has had gender reassignment surgery as an adult and who has been on a hormone therapy program for a minimum of two years must be legally recognized as a female.
The UFC’s #1 female contender is not a ladyboy. I know. But really, she’s not.
Despite initial problems over disclosure, Fox has had her fighter’s license approved and is scheduled to fight again on May 24 under the Championship Fighting Alliance banner, a lower MMA league than the UFC. Dana White and his organization still have a bit of time to tackle this issue head on. However, the UFC needs to consider how its stance, or lack thereof, will be viewed by gay fighters who have yet to come out. It’s easy to pay lip-service to the idea that you welcome openly gay competitors into your organization, your actions, however, are what counts.
To date, Shad Smith, who lost his last title fight in 2011, has been the only openly gay male MMA fighter. If you don’t count Dakota Chocrane. There has not been any known gay male fighters in the UFC. If you don’t count Dominic Cruz. (Though Seth Petruzell’s Facebook page suggests otherwise.) MMA, which likes to let everyone know it is the fastest growing sport on the planet has taken a knock down punch from the world of professional boxing where Olympian Orlando Cruz, now an openly gay fighter, has continued his meteoric rise towards a title fight since coming out. While over in the UFC, the manly men and women are still too afraid of gays to do battle with one in the cage. If they are the good people White claims they are, and the good sports they try to convince everyone they are, their battle with homophobia will be dealt with swiftly. And then Fox can be judged on her merits, on how well she performs in the cage, rather than on no longer having a dick.
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