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Carmouche, Andrade break ground in UFC
Liz Carmouche and Jessica Andrade will be featured in the first women’s UFC bout on FOX.
Another first has more cultural significance: The main card bout on Saturday’s UFC on FOX 8 card will mark the first time two openly homosexual fighters will face one another in the Octagon.
“For sure there's some added attention,” Andrade said through an interpreter on Thursday. “I hope this is opening doors for other people to be open about who they are and how they feel. We want to show everybody that we’re not different from anybody else. Whatever you sexual orientation is, it doesn’t affect how you work or who you are or what you do.”
Jessica Andrade makes her UFC debut against extremely tough opponent, Liz Carmouche.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC
The storyline, however, has hardly been overhyped leading up to the Saturday’s event at KeyArena. (The FOX broadcast starts at 8 pm ET.) Carmouche’s sexual identity was similarly a non-issue when she fought Ronda Rousey as the women’s division debuted in February.
In a summer that saw the US Supreme Court rule in favor of same-sex marriage with a pair of decisions and with more than a dozen states allowing same-sex couples to marry, Carmouche said the lack of attention paid to her and her opponent’s sexual identity also shows progress.
“I do think it’s great,” Carmouche said. “It shouldn’t be a focus on our sexual preference. It’s not who we are as fighters. It’s just an aspect of who we are as people. It’s nice to finally drift away from that.”
As far as what will actually transpire in the Octagon, there are plenty of unknowns.
Carmouche was originally scheduled to fight Miesha Tate before Tate was tapped to replace an injured Cat Zingano on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Andrade has a 9-2 pro record and this is her first fight in the US and only the second outside her native Brazil.
“I think it will be very different,” Carmouche said. “The opponents are very different. Ronda had the Olympic background, very strong in Judo and had been training for years whereas Jessica is young, she’s 21, but she’s made a great record in a short amount of time. And she’s wild, she’s a little powerhouse on her feet. She’s really strong off the back so she offers a lot.”
Liz Carmouche is paving the way for gay athletes.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC
Andrade is generously listed at 5-foot-3. She said Thursday that she was 159 centimeters, which equates to 5-2. That could be the case, if you factored in her new red Jordans she had on when she met with reporters.
“Liz is pretty good on the ground and she’s pretty good standing,” Andrade said. “Overall, she’s tried hard on everything.”
The media frenzy that surrounded her first fight has lessened since Carmouche fought (and fell to) Rousey. The attention Carmouche garnered from taking part in that landmark fight, however, has sustained.
“Um, actually that’s happened quite often,” Carmouche said when asked about how often she’s been noticed in the months since. “There’s been a few occasions where I’ve gone to the store and I’ve had people follow me down the aisles because they’re not sure if it’s me. Grocery shopping, conversation at the airport for like a half hour, it happens pretty much every day.”
This card features two women’s fights. Judie Kedzie faces Germaine de Randamie in a bout that will kick off the FX prelims at 5 pm ET.
Kedzie is coming off a shoulder injury that delayed her UFC debut until this Saturday. She’s trained seven years at Jackson Winkeljohn MMA, home of several elite fighters.
“They haven’t treated me any differently,” Kedzie said. “I’ve been there so long and there are so many UFC fighters there, there hasn’t been much of a change.”