Reigning UFC women’s champion Ronda Rousey said she would reluctantly accept a bout against transgendered fighter Fallon Fox, although Rousey told The New York Post such a fight wouldn’t be “fair.”
“She can try hormones, chop her pecker off, but it’s still the same bone structure a man has,” Rousey told the newspaper. “It’s an advantage. I don’t think it’s fair.”
Fox, who underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2006, has been discussed among MMA circles since she admitted in March she was born a man. The revelation put her fighting license in jeopardy — although she has since been cleared to fight — and raised the question whether Fox should be allowed to fight women.
Fox is 2-0 and has another fight scheduled next month in a lower MMA league.
The discourse took an ugly turn earlier this week when UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione called Fox “a lying, sick, sociopathic, disgusting freak” among other things in an interview on Monday. The UFC suspended Mitrione indefinitely for violating the organization’s code of conduct policy.
“The organization finds Mr. Mitrione’s comments offensive and wholly unacceptable,” the UFC said in a statement when the suspension was announced on Monday.
Rousey said she got the point that Mitrione was attempting to make but didn’t approve the language he used.
“I understand the UFC doesn’t want to be associated with views like that,” Rousey said. “I’m also glad they didn’t straight cut him.”
Rousey told The New York Post that she competed in judo against hermaphroditic athletes but added that fighting a post-operative transgendered woman is different.
“It’s not something that happened to her,” Rousey said. “It was a decision she made. She should be aware in her career after that, it’s going to be an arduous path. … It’s going to draw a lot of emotions.”
There have not been extensive studies on those who make the male-to-female transition when it comes to athletic performance. In one of the few trials, an Amsterdam study showed that a year of hormone replacement therapy resulted in a decline of thigh muscle mass to a point where it was nearly equal to pre-treatment female-to-male transsexuals.
“The recommendations included the caveat that every individual would be assessed on a case-by-case basis,” Arne Ljungqvist, a pathologist and member of the IOC panel that made the recommendations, wrote in the medical journal Lancet. “The relevant sporting body would have authority to take all appropriate measures to ascertain the gender of that competitor.”
While each state can enact its own policy on intersex and postoperative transgendered fighters, the Association of Boxing Commissions — an organization that helps standardize rules for combat sports nationwide — has adopted a policy that aligns itself with the International Olympic Committee. An athlete, like Fox, who had gender reassignment surgery as an adult is required to be on hormone therapy for a minimum of two years and must be legally recognized as a female.
As for fighting Fox, Rousey said she would take the fight.
“What if she became UFC champion and we had a transgender women’s champion?” Rousey said. “It’s a very socially difficult situation.”