Mixed Martial Arts - Does transgender MMA fighter have unfair advantage?

The revelation that a leading women's MMA fighter was born male has caused a review of her licence and sparked an ethical sporting debate in the United States.

Yahoo
Mixed Martial Arts - Does transgender MMA fighter have unfair advantage?
.

View photo

MMA fighter Fallon Fox

When Liz Carmouche fought Ronda Rousey at UFC 157, she became the first openly gay UFC fighter. The sport is breaking new ground again with transgender female fighter Fallon Fox. As a postoperative transgender woman since 2006, the 37-year-old Fox has two professional wins under her belt. But her license is now under review in Florida, where she knocked out Ericka Newsome in a Championship Fighting Alliance tournament bout.

Fox revealed her original gender to Sports Illustrated on Monday. She said when she applied for a licence in Florida, that she already held a licence in California. Once a fighter is licensed in one state, it's usually easier to get licensed in another. Fox thought she was licensed in California, but the California State Athletic Commission said her licence application was under review. Though she says she disclosed her transgender history to California, she didn't to Florida.

The crux of the question behind her licence is whether or not Fox's former gender would give her an advantage over opponents. Fox says it won't.

"They think she must be stronger, because she used to be a male. But if they look at the science of it, and what the hormones do to the male body, taken over a period of two to three years, it dissipates," Fox said to Outsports. "That's what they found, and which is one of the reasons why the International Olympic Committee has allowed post-operative trans people to participate in the Olympics."

As Florida investigates her licence, the promoter doesn't have any plans to remove Fox from the tournament.

"She [currently] has a licence by the Florida State Boxing Commission as a female; she's going to stay in the tournament," CFA CEO Jorge De La Noval said to ESPN. "She's a female fighter to us. And we're standing behind her when it comes to that. We're not going to kick her out of the tournament. She's going to continue fighting for CFA."

She is supposed to fight again April 20. The Florida commission is planning to meet on March 15 for a workshop on pro MMA events, and Fox's case will be discussed then.

MMA as we know it today is a fairly new sport. It has the ability to evolve more quickly than sports with more established institutions. That makes it more nimble and able to handle with new challenges thrown its way. Though at times this means it appears to be fly by night, it also means it can act quickly to evolve.

View comments (410)