Friday night’s mixed-martial arts event at BankUnited Center on the University of Miami campus will be the first Championship Fighting Alliance card to be televised nationally (on AXS TV).
But it will be historic for another reason.
The co-main event will feature a female bout in the featherweight division between unbeaten Fallon Fox and Allana Jones. Fox, who is 2-0 as a professional, was born a man – and Friday’s bout will be her first since the disclosure that she’s a transgender fighter.
Though Fox has gained supporters since her revelation, she has also drawn detractors – many of whom believe she has a competitive advantage. The critics include UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey, who quipped: “She can chop her [expletive] off, she’s still a man.”
“I find them completely ignorant and bigoted,” said Fox, formerly Boyd Burton. “People fear things they don’t understand. They aren’t on the up-and-up on the issue. When they meet me it’s the first time they’ve been introduced to someone like me. It’s completely bigoted, and hateful some of the things they’re saying.”
Before undergoing gender reassignment surgery in 2006, Fox also went through hormone replacement therapy. Her testosterone levels are lower than other female fighters in the sport, but the fact she was once a male has raised concerns among some.
CFA president Jorge de la Noval featured Fox, 37, on a card in March before finding out she’s transgender when he got a call from the commission. But he stands by his decision to feature her on Friday night’s card and supports her 100 percent.
“I’ve been discriminated many times because I’m Hispanic,” de la Noval said. “People have been discriminated through the years because of color, sexual preference, and that’s something I’m completely against. As long as she’s got her license, and doctors approved her to fight as a female, I was fine with it. I’ve gotten a lot of calls, mostly negative, but I stick with my decision no matter what the outcome is. I’m just glad she’s fighting for the CFA this Friday.”
Added De la Noval:
“The fact that she’s dominated everybody isn’t because she was born a male. She’s a really good female fighter.”
Fox knew her decision to come out would be controversial, but there has been an upside. She speaks to various LGBT organizations and other transgender individuals who understand the struggles she faced growing up.
“A lot of people in the community have reached out to me to tell me how inspiring I’ve been to them,” Fox said. “They’ve been supportive towards me, and I’m supportive towards them. It’s time people understand that I’m a woman, but with a different past.”
Now that she’s approved to fight as a female, Fox says she’s excited about the strides women have made in the sport.
“There are women fighting in the sport that are strong, powerful and at the same time beautiful,” Fox said. “It’s a great time to be a woman in MMA. Women have been fighting for a while, but are now getting the attention they have rightfully deserved.
“There will always be a segment of the population that won’t understand me. I’m always going to have a fan base, and the fan base will grow over time. If I do well in this sport, then great, but if not at least I know I’m doing my thing and that’s fighting. We can’t worry about people think all the time. We just have to go out and do what we do.”