Professional LGBTQ Mixed Martial Artists

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Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a full combat and unarmed sport that is composed of a mix of wrestling, boxing and traditional martial arts. It is known for its outright aggressiveness and brutality as a sport with very few rules other than those minimally required to maintain a competitor's safety. MMA's popularity has surged in recent years despite the fact many sports regulators remain wary of its legitimacy as an organized sport.

In this context, it is considered challenging for a fighter to come out as LGBTQ. Having a high-profile LGBTQ MMA fighter would contradict the public stereotype of intolerant and tough athletes that defines the MMA world.

Nevertheless, the sports' largest professional organization, Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC), continually expresses its support for diversity in MMA and sponsors several HIV/AIDS awareness programs. In 2016, the UFC launched the ‘We Are All Fighters’ line of merchandise aimed particularly at the supporters of MMA who identify as LGBTQ, with proceeds going to the LGBTQ Center in Las Vegas.

Straight MMA fighter Connor MacGregor of Ireland, considered the top MMA fighter to date, tweeted his support of same sex marriage rights during his country’s referendum on the issue in 2015. A picture of his entire team accompanied by the Pride Flag appeared in the tweet.

The first professional male LGBTQ fighter is considered to be UFC's Jeff Molina who came out as bisexual in 2023.

Part of the reluctance for MMA fighters to come out could be the fear of adverse fan reaction.

Lately, the sport has introduced weight classes, protective body equipment, and a professional women's division. Indeed, the vast majority of publicly out LGBTQ MMA fighters are lesbian. Only one gay professional fighter exists - Shad Smith of the United States. Recently, lesbian Amanda Nunes of Brazil became the first openly gay individual to hold a UFC championship belt. Fallon Fox is the first transgender professional MMA fighter.

A reality television show has been created around the sport - 'The Ultimate Fighter'. In the show, fourteen mixed martial artists are separated into two teams in a house, living, training and fighting until there is one winner. There has been speculation that several past contestants were LGBTQ.

We have identified the following professional LGBTQ MMA fighters. They hail from the United States, Brazil and Mexico. Click on their names to read their fascinating biographies.



United States

See Also

Further Reading/Research

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