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Will the issue of sexuality be the next ‘strike’ used against women’s MMA by critics?

By Zach Arnold | July 14, 2011

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Yesterday on Sherdog radio, the estimable Jack Encarnacao and Jon Luther were interviewing Strikeforce female MMA fighter Liz “Girl-rilla” Carmouche about her upcoming fight with Sarah Kaufman on July 22nd in Las Vegas for a Challengers event to air on Showtime.

The interview was largely standard fare, talking about the differences between facing Marloes Coenen and facing someone like Sarah Kaufman. Liz said that Kaufman is a much more aggressive fighter, which she says is similar to her fighting style. During the conversation, Liz was asked about balancing her school life and finals while preparing for the Coenen fight. She mentioned how her girlfriend has been a big supporter of her MMA career in terms of providing positive reinforcement.

Listening to her comments, I didn’t flinch at all in regards to her bringing up ‘her girlfriend.’ However, it obviously caught the attention of a lot of listeners, so the interviewers asked her about it and why she decided to be open about her sexuality.

“Being in the military, I was forced to hold back and to not really find that part of myself. It’s not something that I want to do again in my life. My team and my coaches have been accepting and encouraging and they joke around about it and at no point have I ever felt like it’s something that I’ve had to hide. And I don’t want to be the type of fighter who is hiding parts of myself that eventually come out and come to surprise. I want to be open and honest with my fans. I want to be open and honest with everybody so they know who I am and at no point is that going to throw anybody off or disgust them or just anything, I don’t want any negative repercussions for who I am. I want it to be open and honest from the get go so that I can be the best fighter and person that I (can be).

“I definitely think that they’re much more accepting of it. I mean just if you look at society in general, a few years ago it wasn’t accepted. The military, everything, you could see it looked down upon and I definitely think that people are becoming more open to it and more aware of what’s going in the world, so they’re accepting. They want to connect with the fighters and they want to understand them on every level and I think that being honest with their sexuality helps them understand who they are and connects with them.”

At that point of the interview, I thought that was that and didn’t think much about it. However, after the interview Jack & Jon brought up a (depressingly) fair point: will the media start asking questions regarding the sexuality of not only Liz’s future opponents but also of all female MMA fighters? If so, is this going to be used as another ‘strike’ against supporting women’s MMA on a large promotional scale?

I know what my personal opinion on the matter is, but what I think versus what major power brokers think may differ substantially (and not in a good way for women’s MMA).

Topics: Media, MMA, StrikeForce, Zach Arnold | 31 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

31 Responses to “Will the issue of sexuality be the next ‘strike’ used against women’s MMA by critics?”

  1. Steve4192 says:

    I don’t think anyone gives a damn about women’s sexual preferences. Everyone knows that women’s athletics has it’s fair share of gay athletes, regardless of which sport we are talking about. Bible-thumpers aside, most people are pretty accepting of lesbianism.

    OTOH, if a male fighter in a major organization came out and admitted to liking dudes, there would be a media shit-storm.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      I agree. It’s assumed that many female athletes are lesbians. People joke about how the WNBA attracts a big lesbian audience.

      If anything, if the female is hot, it might even bring more of a fanbase to her. Imagine if Gina Carano said she swung both ways…. The fans would love it.

      But if a male athletes came out and was a top tier fighters, it definitely would be a major issue for some fighters and fans.

      Charles Barkley this past season ripped into a player who was saying he didn’t want to play with a gay ball player. Barkely basically said that they have all played with gay players already they just didn’t know who.

      This will become less and less of an issue as years pass. The younger people in America and having less and less issues with this topic.

      • Jonathan says:

        I agree with your point here 45 Huddle, and wondered if you had thought of this.

        What if a hot gal like Gina Carano came out and said she was a lesbian that DID NOT swing both ways…just went for girls only.

        I think that alot of guys out there would be accepting of a hot Gina Carano going for some girl-on-girl action with them (in their minds), but would not be so open to that same proposal if they thought that she did not “want” them as well.

        Thoughts anyone?

        Personally, being from Oklahoma, I have no problems with gay or or lesbian people taking part in MMA or even getting married for that idea. I wonder what will happen when we have the first transgendered person try to fight in MMA.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    Lyoto Machida agreed to fight Rashad Evans… And then his management came back and said only for more money. I’m not sure if it was “Anderson Silva” type money like White is saying, but I’m sure he was asking for more money.

    Bad career advice by his manager. That fight with Evans would have been an easy victory for him based on their styles.

    You combine that with the fact that Junior Dos Santos left the same management lately….

    Makes you wonder…

    • The Gaijin says:

      Honestly what was White expecting? Or anyone for that matter really…

      Why Machida should take a fight on 3 weeks notice (e.g. no formal and dedicated camp), stepping into the PPV main event against a top 4 LHW and NOT be compensated for it? It’s not like it’s a regularly contracted fight here…that’s just not how the world works – consideration for consideration – this is above and beyond the regular situation and they should expect to pay him “something more”. They’d be foolish really to think otherwise.

      I think the real issue is that DW just HATES it when someone has any bargaining leverage with him.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        I think if Machida said I want more money and then I will say yes to the fight…. That would be one thing.

        But to say yes, get Zuffa’s expectations going… and then try and ask for more money…. Is absolutely a foolish tactic.

        And then to make matters worse, his wife talks to a website and says it is purely about preperation time.

        So not only did Machida reneg on the UFC… But also had his wife go out and lie to people just to make himself look better in this situation.

        • The Gaijin says:

          Well without knowing the exact conversations had, I could imagine they called him and asked if he could step in and at the first instance he said yes he could/would with the expectation that they would negotiate details later. Maybe it’s the case that they discussed everything and then he tried to Fedor them afterwards, but we don’t know. I mean Tito said no and then he said yes, and I would have to think there was negotiations involved there.

          I don’t think that’s a bizarre “tactic” or “approach” at all really. Did they really expect that a phone call was it? These guys are business men after all. Don’t they have a fighter contract and then the actual bout agreements? I’m sure there’s negotiations they have and should have expected to have in cases like these.

          Again, I really find this to be PR/media peacocking on Zuffa’s part.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Dana White said on the conference call that there is nothing wrong for asking for extras for taking a fight on short notice…. But it was the amount of money that was a slap in the face to him.

          It must really be a huge difference in paydays for White to be this mad about it.


          Yes, I would say it’s bad career advice.

          If he was willing to accept the fight under certain money terms, it means he was in good enough shape to fight. If he wasn’t in good enough shape to fight, he would have said no throughout the entire process.

          And this is the same manager who just lost a huge high profile client.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          But if we all disagree on this topic…. We can all agree on another one…

          Which is how bad the main event would have been if Tito Ortiz didn’t come through….

          Who would have filled the spot? Vladimir Matyushenko!! Yikes!!

          I think the Phil Davis injury ended up working out perfectly for the UFC.

          Evans is more likely to win and keep the Evans/Jones title fight in place.

          And if Ortiz strikes with lighting twice, he is a much bigger name then Phil Davis and what a storyline it would be for him to get another shot at the title after almost being cut by the UFC….

  3. David m says:

    What kind of mma website has its top 2 stories on women’s mma nonsense and jousting? The only thing 99.8% of mma fans want to talk about is rashad v tito, but that is apparently too “mainstream” for you.

    • PL Allie says:

      If Zack talked about what the other sites are covering, I don’t think I would come here.

      • David m says:

        It doesn’t have to be one or the other, although the layout of this site makes it feel that way. Let me just say for the record this is my favorite mma site and my critiques should be contextualized as such.

        • Chromium says:

          I come here for articles and insights I can’t find on other MMA sites. So, while the volume may be lacking (I wouldn’t mind if Zach opened up the site to a couple extra writers for a bit more content, as long as they didn’t just copypasta stuff), fairly often there is interesting content here I just don’t find else. I don’t really care if he isn’t covering the Tito/Lyoto/Rashad thing much or other stories that I can go to dozens of other sites for.

  4. Chris says:

    I don’t think sexuality will be the next strike against women’s mma. But I’m waiting for some dope in the media to bring it a totally childish manner. “Sarah, what if Liz tries to kiss you during the fight”? In the end, the biggest strike against women’s mma will be the eventual death of Strikeforce.

    I also think that Steve’s comment about the type of storm that will come when a notable male mma fighter comes out of the closet is on point.

  5. Chuck says:

    It’s Zach’s website, he can delete posts if he wants. Zach actually allows a lot of leeway here. How many times has Jack, Jonathan (not recently in the case of Jonathan), Gaijin, even me in the past, etc. bashed 45 huddle and still not have their posts deleted. The most I ever got was a slap on the wrist (being warned to not do it again etc. Not just me, but anyone and everyone participating in flame wars).

    This may sound ridiculous, but none of us have the right of free speech here. It’s Zach’s website. If you want to be completely unfiltered then you might as well create your own MMA website/blog.

  6. The Gaijin says:

    In a sign of good things – the NJSAC indefinitely suspended the incompetent judges involved in the Williams-Lara decision farce.

    Nice to see something being done about terrible judging decisions…hopefully this makes judges all over (boxing and mma) take note and shapen up.

    • edub says:

      Hells yes. Good to see some logic is returning to commissions.

    • Chuck says:

      That was shitty judging. The judges obviously looked at Williams’ workrate and business over Lara’s effective work. It doesn’t look the the result will change though. The best thing to do now would be for Williams to man-up and give Lara a rematch. Hold off the Martinez rematch a bit.

      Williams-Lara was a close fight, but it should have went to Lara (either 117-11 or 116-112).

      • edub says:

        Completely disagree.

        The fight was only close to 116-112 if you look at Paul with starry eyes and ignore the insane amount of concussive over hand lefts Lara landed at will. I had it 118-110 and I think giving Paul 2 rounds was a stretch.

      • The Gaijin says:

        I honestly didn’t even think it was close. I think I would have scored it 118-110 – I thought he totally outclassed the Punisher.

        If I was Martinez I would take the Williams fight in a heartbeat b/c Lara landed that OH left with ease – just no answer/defence…if that was Martinez it would have been another quick night. Williams showed nothing to make me think he could deal with Martinez (I think Martinez should be 2-0 already).

  7. Chris says:

    I have no problem Machida asking for major green to fight a top five Light Heavy on three weeks notice. The fight game is a business. If Machida felt that that Zuffa was not making it worth his while to take the fight, then that’s his perogative. If they wanted him bad enough, then they would have paid him what he wanted. So I don’t want to here Dana White whining about Machida turning the fight down.

  8. edub says:

    I don’t think you understand anything about this website.

    People have dissenting opinions all the time. None of that gets deleted. It’s when multiple things get said about a particular poster or posters that things get deleted.

    I’ve had things deleted on this site, and they were done so for good reason.

    Just because you make valid points some of the time doesn’t give you the right to post anything you want.

  9. Jonathan says:

    I don’t second this.

    This site needs somewhat “weird” posters like 45 Huddle and myself.

    Please feel free to flame me now Sam.

  10. Alexandre Mogue says:

    One subject you havent spoke about Zach. I wonder if you will. These injuries to a main event…specifically UFC main eventers coming up injury with at least 3-4 weeks out from a PPV. This is becoming a poor trend thats screwing up cards. Davis drops out and there is no replacement. Makes me wonder if the fighters actually show proof of the injury or just back out of the fight with a faux injury because they fear losing?

  11. sam says:

    Well personally I doubt they just get cold feet weeks before a main event, but I certainly hope that UFC and/or the commission demands proof of injury. I’m pretty sure they do since a bout agreement is signed for each fight and to pull out without reason would violate a legally binding contract. I could be wrong though.

    I was thinking about this same issue though. I dont remember nearly as many last-minute injury pullouts in Pride FC main events. However, that could just be because many of the fights were made at the last minute, or it could just be because of the rampant steroid use.. who knows.

  12. The Gaijin says:

    Yeah, I just can’t seem to figure out why…

  13. Chromium says:

    I didn’t know Liz Carmouche was gay, and after thinking about it for a few seconds I don’t hugely care. More power to her if she wants to be open about it. She’s not even the first well known female fighter to (partially) come out of the closet. Tonya Evinger even made jokes about how she’d rather make out with Gina Carano than fight her before their fight (and afterward too).

    At this point, while I agree with others that a high-profile gay male fighter might open an entirely different can or worms (mainly because of fan reactions, not the media response), I really don’t see Liz being an issue at all. In the end it shows MMA is accepting of the gay community without threatening the redneck contingent of the fanbase (well except the very worst of them but fuck those guys). In 2011 I would say this is actually a net positive, if it’s anything at all.

  14. Zach Arnold says:


    I come here for articles and insights I can’t find on other MMA sites. So, while the volume may be lacking (I wouldn’t mind if Zach opened up the site to a couple extra writers for a bit more content, as long as they didn’t just copypasta stuff), fairly often there is interesting content here I just don’t find else. I don’t really care if he isn’t covering the Tito/Lyoto/Rashad thing much or other stories that I can go to dozens of other sites for.

    There is a great misconception that I leave the door closed on writers. I have desperately tried to recruit writers from day one. However, finding writers who can do it on a regular basis is nearly impossible.

    One of two outcomes usually happens: a) that writer gets poached from another site in short order or b) the writer loses interest and stops writing or starts their own site that draws 20 hits a day instead of writing on a big platform like this.

    I would love to bring on writers. I’m more than happy to help out writers grow and do some substantial work. However, there isn’t a lot of interest from those considering making the jump into the writing pool.

    As for not posting enough, it’s a mix and match scenario. I am not into the rat race scenario as far as breaking news first. If I do break a story, it’s because I have my ducks in a row and it’s something that I’m fairly knowledgeable about. Regarding transcripts, they take time and I am careful to not misquote anyone whatsoever. What I give up in volume I make up in accuracy.

    I wish I could sit here and write a ton of articles daily, but I can’t and I have to find a fair balance as to what I post versus what the return is.

  15. Light23 says:

    I find it really sad that this question even needs to be asked. It’s horrible that people can be so unaccepted by society due to their sexuality.


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