UFC makes history with first openly gay champion

Kristen King // Contributing Writer

Last week, the UFC spent all seven days preparing for the year’s biggest pay-per-view card: UFC 200. For the event, the company started off its annual “International Fight Week,” which hosts several fighter meet-and-greets, amateur tournaments and the UFC Hall of Fame Induction ceremony.

Two-championship title fights, the return of Brock Lesnar, who hadn’t fought in five years, and an entire card stacked with veteran fighters who have grown to become fan favorites over the years. With a full lineup of activities, UFC 200 was hyped up to be a huge night in the history of the company.

Yet, that wasn’t what made this card historic. It was the main event that pushed its reputation beyond remarkable.

In the main event, two women shared the spotlight for the company’s bantamweight title. Miesha Tate, a seasoned veteran of the sport, was defending the belt she had just won in a come-from-behind submission back in March. In front of her was Amanda Nunes, or “The Lioness,” who was known for her excellent striking and quick movement that posed a threat to anyone in the division.

In just three minutes and 16 seconds, Nunes used her striking to set up a rear-naked choke that resulted in the champion tapping out. She became the fourth woman to capture the title.

She also became the first openly gay champion in the UFC’s history.

For years, it has seemed taboo for an openly gay man or woman to compete in any kind of sport. With combat sports, themes like “machismo” surround the mentality of most fighters however, in light of recent events, the combat sports world has started to come together in support of the LGBTQA community and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.

Pamela Fajardo, an FIU student and LGBTQA supporter, believes that the community should be treated equally no matter what sport they compete in.

“What should matter is the work ethic they put into the sport and how they can succeed as individuals, without allowing their sexuality to interfere,” Fajardo said.

Sexuality should not interfere with the perceived skill set of these men and women and it’s always a great thing to see them excel and capture prestigious titles in some of the world’s toughest sports.

 “Anytime you see someone that’s open in sports, it’s a positive reinforcement for the community,” Associate Director of LGBTQA Initiatives Gisela Vega said. “Athletics has often times faced discrimination, so anytime someone comes out and affirms themselves it’s such a power to the community.”

Even if you’ve never seen a mixed martial arts fight or are unaware of the injustices that the LGBTQA community still faces in sports, it is important to note an accomplishment like this. Having someone reign as champion of a sport, as well as a community, just brings more awareness to the ongoing issues that we can unite to combat.

Congratulations to Amanda Nunes for becoming champion of the world and further showing us that her sexuality didn’t define her as fighter, or hinder her from capturing the gold and fulfilling her lifelong dream.

Photo by Yu Shin Ying, retrieved via Flickr.

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