Dec 10, 2012, 12:05 PM EDT
Meet Liz Carmouche (right), the first openly gay fighter in UFC history. She’ll be involved in a double milestone on Feb. 23 when UFC unveils its new women’s division, featuring 135-pound champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey vs. Carmouche in the main event at UFC 157 at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
The UFC’s first women’s event is big news for sure, but to have it include an openly gay fighter is even bigger. It should go without saying that Carmouche is the league’s first avowed lesbian fighter, and given the recent history of league president Dana White and many of his announcers and fighters, this is indeed a big step.
What precipitated the UFC’s attitude adjustment? I can’t pinpoint it definitively, but I’d guess it has to do with advertising $. When one of your biggest sponsors says “knock off the homophobia,” you tend to listen, if you want your sport to remain relevant. MMA Fighting:
“I still haven’t processed it,” Carmouche said. “I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it. It was the type of thing I dreamed about when I got into the sport a couple years ago, but to have it happen this fast … like I said, I still haven’t processed it.”
The fighter known as “The Girl-Rilla” is 7-2 in her career and has won her past two fights. She was scheduled to face Sara McMann on the doomed Nov. 3 Strikeforce card in Oklahoma City, and has waited for her next move since the card was canceled.
Carmouche (7-2, 4 knockouts) was born in Lafayette, LA, and raised in Okinawa, Japan, and did three tours in the Middle East as a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter electrician.
Rousey, who won a bronze medal in judo at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is 6-0 and is pretty much the sole reason the UFC started a women’s division in the first place. When you’re an Olympic medalist, unbeaten in MMA and have been in ESPNs The Body Issue, you’re pretty much running the show. A Carmouche victory not only would be a monumental upset, but might end the UFC women’s division experiment.
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