The introduction of women’s UFC to television is not only a dream come true for male audiences, but a chance for females to show they can keep up with the boys in tackling mixed martial arts (MMA). The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the world’s largest MMA fighting league and offers an opportunity for professional fighters to advance their careers in a popularized version of the sport. So far there are 11 fighters in the UFC Women’s Bantamweight division and many hopefuls to be signed in the future.
However, on March 5, one female MMA fighter, Fallon Fox, sparked an ongoing controversy in the world of professional fighting when she came out as transgendered. Fox was a man by birth, but underwent the process and surgery involved in becoming a woman. Fighters, trainers and officials affiliated with the sport are in hot debate over whether or not it is fair or safe for Fox to be allowed to be paired with women in MMA fighting, let alone be added to the UFC’s roster.
UFC commentator Joe Rogan boldly voiced his stance on the issue via his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. There is no mistaking his disapproval and denial of Fox being allowed to fight in the UFC Women’s division.
“She wants to be able to fight women in MMA. I say no fucking way. I say if you had a dick at one point in time, you also have all the bone structure that comes with having a dick. You have bigger hands, you have bigger shoulder joints. You’re a fucking man. That’s a man, okay? You can’t have… that’s… I don’t care if you don’t have a dick anymore,” said Rogan in his March 6 podcast.
Rogan also said that although he has no problem addressing Fox and respecting her as a woman in general, it is unfair for her to fight against women where she has an obvious physical advantage in her build.
UFC fighter Miesha Tate told ESPN.com this week that she will refuse to fight against Fox “due to health concerns” if a situation arises where she is asked to. Like Rogan, Tate also said that she is not against transgendered people but her decision is one out of concern for her safety.
“I just have a lot of questions and I don’t feel there’s been enough research to safely say it’s okay for Fallon Fox to fight other females,” said Tate to ESPN, “My concern is that she went through puberty as a man. Does that change bone density? Does it change her body frame?”
Although most parties agree that they have no issue with transgendered people, this conflict lies deeper than the battle between two sexes and who is better at what. The general consensus is that there is a potential issue in the safety of fighters by allowing transgendered individuals to decide which division they can partake in. As UFC only gained mainstream popularity in the last several years and with this conflict demanding media attention, it is clear the UFC will need to address it and devise new policies for the future.