Are There Any Gay UFC Fighters? (Gay MMA Fighters Also)

Are you wondering if there are any gay UFC fighters?

In this article, we’ll look at the complete list of gay UFC fighters, why there aren’t any gay male UFC fighters and the complete list of openly gay male MMA fighters.

Are There Any Gay UFC Fighters?

Yes, there is plenty of gay UFC fighters, however, they’re all female.

MMA promotions and the UFC promote pride month and openly support gay fighters; encouraging them to come out.

Despite this, while MMA and the UFC likely have some gay male fighters, they’re unwilling to come out as gay because of the stigma surrounding being gay in martial arts and sports overall. 

This is especially true for male UFC fighters, where there hasn’t been a single male fighter to come out as gay in such a macho sport. The wide majority of UFC fans are also male, so it makes it even harder for them to come out.

Why Are There No Openly Gay Male UFC Fighters?

There are no openly gay male UFC Fighters because they’re scared to come out in a sport where being gay is looked down upon and feminine, and where online abuse is so common. They’re also especially scared to be the first to come out and their fear is likely justified for the following reasons.

Dana White Messes Up

Dana White messed up in 2009 when he called an interviewer a ‘faggot’ in a video.

White has repeatedly apologized, and in 2011 White said about gay fighters, “I wish they’d come out”, and “If you’re an athlete in the UFC and you are gay, I could care less. You will not be treated any different”.

In 2012 White also said, “It’s water under the bridge but I’m looked at now like I’m some type of homophobe. Which I’m the furthest thing from it, I could care less. And if I was, I would tell you.” He also said that from 2000 to 2012, it was the only thing he regrets saying.

So, despite White being sincere in his apologies, gay male UFC fighters may look at that those remarks in 2009 and have some doubt in their mind when they think about coming out as gay – especially when it’s the head of the promotion saying those things.

Homophobia in Outside Sports

Also, gay male athletes have plenty of evidence from other sports that attitudes toward them are negative and the issue is still very polarizing. The NFL and NBA previously operated under the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, seeing homosexuality as a distraction from the game and keeping many gay athletes in the closet.

Homophobia from the UFC Fanbase

More recently, in June 2022, Jeff Molina was abused online following his decision to wear Pride Month colors on his shorts during his fight at UFC FN: 207.

There were comments like, “Man you support gay people, you’re gonna burn in hell” – showing it’s no wonder that gay fighters are afraid to come out when a heterosexual fighter showing support for them gets this much abuse.

Homophobia from Heterosexual UFC Fighters

Not only is there outside abuse but there are negative feelings towards gay fighters within the UFC. In a 2011 interview, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira said “I have no prejudice against gays, but I wouldn’t train with someone who’s gay”.

Other UFC fighters have come under scrutiny for homophobic comments, such as Donald Cerrone, Josh Thompson, and Sean Strickland, who for the most part have gotten away with their remarks.

Is There Any Support for Gay Male UFC Fighters?

On the other hand, the UFC and MMA have been vocal in their welcoming of gay fighters, especially Dana White who most know doesn’t care about people’s sexual orientation – he’s only focused on promoting the best fighters and the business side of the MMA.

Gay male UFC fighters received a huge boost of confidence and support when the UFC celebrated pride month for the third time in 2022. They sold customizable shirts and headbands directly from the UFC store with 100% of the profits going to the LGTBQIA+ Center of Southern Nevada. Fighters were also given the opportunity to customize their fight gear.

In 2012, Dakota Cochrane participated in TUF: Live, the 15th series of the show. He’d previously participated in gay pornography and let the UFC know about this when applying, and they accepted him for the show.

Dakota maintained he was heterosexual, but this unequivocally shows that the UFC welcomes gay male UFC fighters, and what they offer as a fighter is the only thing that matters.

In 2013, former UFC fighter, Rashad Evans, came out in support of gay marriage, saying on the issue, “ ‘I’m a UFC fighter, a macho-type sport,” he explained. “I am a heterosexual guy in a tough macho sport, which is exactly the reason I feel a duty to say I support gay marriage and gay rights.’ “

In 2017, Marc Diakiese made history when he became the first UFC fighter to appear in a gay magazine, the Gay Times. Not gay himself, Marc expressed how he’s fighting for equality and how he was trying to attract a new audience to the UFC.

Overall, homosexuality in the UFC and MMA is an extremely polarizing topic, and while there have been fighters supporting the LGBTQ community, it’s anyone’s guess as to when there’ll be the first openly gay male UFC fighter.

Complete List of Gay UFC Fighters (2022)

Here’s a complete list of Gay UFC fighters to have fought with the promotion:

1. Amanda Nunes

The most high-profile gay UFC fighter is Amanda Nunes, due to her dominance and becoming the first gay UFC champion and only the third double champion behind Conor McGregor and Daniel Cormier.

Amanda has been openly gay ever since she first turned to professional MMA in 2008, but has spoken of her struggles coming out as a child. 

She said, “ ‘I knew I liked girls since I was little, so I know how hard it is to live with that. Sometimes you have to lie and say you like a boy in your class just to fit in that group. I know all those things because I had to (do it).’ “

Alongside her wife, Nina Nunes, another former UFC fighter, they’re both seen as role models within the LGBTQ community and always want to help people come out as gay and not hide who they truly are. They often receive direct messages from people asking for help and they help in any way they can.

2. Jessica Aguilar

Jessica Aguilar fought in the UFC between 2015 and 2019 and had come out as bisexual in 2012, 6 years after first turning professional in 2006.

In terms of her ATT teammates and everyone around her in the MMA community, she’s had nothing but positive responses. The same can’t be said for her mother, who was very vocal about her disapproval of Jessica’s bisexuality, believing it to be just a phase that would pass.

10 years later and it hasn’t passed, but in that time Jessica continued to fight and became the World Series of Fighting strawweight champion in 2014, becoming the promotion’s first female champion. After two successful title defenses, she voluntarily left to pursue a career in the UFC.

3. Jessica Andrade

Jessica Andrade is well known as one of the best female MMA athletes of all time. Jessica turned professional in 2011 and was already an openly gay fighter as she’s never felt the need to hide who she truly is.

In her 2013 UFC debut, she lost against Liz Carmouche, which was the first time in UFC history that two openly gay fighters had fought. As expected, their sexual orientation had no effect on their performances and Carmouche secured her first UFC win via punches and elbows in full mount.

While Jessica Andrade doesn’t speak too much on the subject as she’s all business, she once revealed how gay women fight harder because they feel they’re being judged.

She also revealed, “ ‘When it comes to men, that fear of being out is still there. I hope when a guy comes out in the UFC, he won’t be afraid. It’s difficult at first, but little by little people will understand. It gets better.’ ”

4. Livinha Souza

Livinha is the former Invicta FC strawweight champion who joined the UFC in 2018, fighting there for nearly 4 years before being released following 2 consecutive losses.

Livinha keeps her private life and fighting life separate as she sees no relevance between the two, so she’s never openly spoken about her sexual orientation. 

However, she’s very supportive of the LGBT community, mostly seen through her Instagram account in which she tags GLBT often (Brazilian version).

5. Liz Carmouche

Liz Carmouche was the first openly gay UFC fighter when she fought in the UFC’s first female bout against the inaugural bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey, at UFC 157 in January 2013.

Not only was Liz the first openly gay UFC fighter, but she had also long been a proud voice for the LGBTQ community, expressing her thoughts and challenges of being a gay MMA athlete and former gay marine where she spent 5 years. When Liz fights, she always wears a gumshield sporting the Pride colors.

6. Molly McCann

Molly McCann was teased from the age of 10 or 11 for playing sports in school – often seen as a masculine activity. From the age of 16 to 21, she played football and was on the verge of becoming a professional player, before turning her attention to MMA.

It wasn’t until the age of 25 that she decided to come out, shortly after she was fighting professionally. She felt as if she could be who she was when training MMA because her gyms made her feel so comfortable in her own skin.

Amazingly, in 2021 Molly published a short-illustrated book called ‘Be True To You’, discussing her decision to come out as gay, as well as helping young people discuss their sexuality and have self-acceptance about it.

She also became the ambassador for Stonewall, an LGBT+ rights charity, and said she wants to provide the platform for others to come out in sport and MMA.

7. Nina Nunes

Nina Nunes is the wife of bantamweight and featherweight UFC champion, Amanda Nunes.

Formerly Nina Ansaroff, she became a professional in 2010 and met her future wife at a gym in Florida while training in 2012 – before the UFC even had a women’s weight class division.

The couple engaged in 2018 and welcomed a daughter in 2020, birthed by Nina. They then married in 2021 and are both proud members of the LGBTQ community.

8. Raquel Pennington

Raquel Pennington was involved in UFC history when she fought against Amanda Nunes at UFC 224, in May 2018; becoming the first UFC title bout to feature two openly gay UFC fighters.

Raquel Pennington is famously dating another gay UFC fighter, Tecia Torres, with the couple getting married in 2022.

Pennington entered the UFC via TUF: Team Rousey vs Team Tate, the 18th season of the show. During her time on the show, Pennington shared to her housemates her coming out story and what it was like to be gay in MMA, with the news being well received and positive.

9. Tecia Torres

Tecia Torres became professional in 2012 by signing with Invicta FC. She was then one of the first 11 women to be a part of the newly created UFC strawweight division in 2014, funneled through TUF: Season 20.

Tecia is active in the LGBTQ community, believing that being who she is and being authentic to herself is very important, and she wants to portray this message to those in need.

In 2016, Tecia started dating fellow UFC fighter Raquel Pennington, but when the two first met, Tecia was dating a guy which means she’s bisexual. The couple soon engaged in 2017 and married in 2022.

10. Tonya Evinger

Tonya Evinger was the Invicta bantamweight champion between 2015 and 2017. In 2013 she made it onto the TUF: Team Rousey vs Team Tate, the 18th season of the show, and lost to Raquel Pennington in the final. She later signed for the UFC in 2017 but was released in 2019 following 3 consecutive losses.

Tonya infamously kissed octagon interviewer Laura Sanko after successfully defending her Invicta FC bantamweight title. Controversial to say the least, but she always made it clear throughout her career that she was gay and didn’t care what people thought; ultimately providing a platform for others to come out.

Gay MMA Fighters (Males)

Despite there not being any gay male UFC fighters, there has been a couple of gay MMA fighters over the years.

Shad Smith (2008)

The first male MMA fighter to come out as gay was Shad Smith in 2008, where he was also the first gay male athlete across America’s biggest 5 sports (MMA being the fifth).

In a NY Times profile of Shad Smith, it was revealed that he had 46 counts of battery and assault growing up, before turning to professional MMA.

When asked why he looked for trouble so much as a teenager, Shad replied, ‘ “You know, bro, the sexual-preference thing.” ‘ Although it’s a very positive thing that Shad came out and doesn’t have to hide who he is, this is exactly what fighters fear about coming out.

It’s the stereotype of gay men that they want to fight you because of a sexual preference, rather than wanting to be the best martial artist and testing their skills against an opponent. So although Shad’s coming out may have helped some men in MMA, comments like these also halted any progression.

On the positive side, Shad Smith came out in 2008 and had no trouble fighting for another 13 years until he retired in 2021. He fought once for Bellator but most notably for BAMMA USA and KOTC.

After retirement, Shad Smith received backlash as it was found out that he’d appeared in gay adult films before entering into MMA, which is something he’d never disclosed.

Washington Duarte

Washington Duarte is the first openly gay male MMA fighter to come out in Brazil, with a somewhat questionable nickname, ‘The Little Golden Princess’. Washington is the Macaco flyweight champion, often coming out to fights with the Pride flag.

While in Brazil it seems common for women to come out as gay, much like in the UFC, it’s a lot harder for men to come out because of the stigma surrounding it.

Growing up, Washington said people around him in his life had no problems with his sexual orientation, and that abuse only really started once he got into MMA.

It’s widely known that a Brazilian fighter actually left his hometown after getting knocked out by Washington, explaining he was too embarrassed after losing to a gay man.

Washington also explained, “ ‘they wouldn’t train with me because if I beat them up, it would mess up their heads. Especially in fights. Many promotions said people simply wouldn’t fight me, that they would leave them if they ever lost to me.’ ”

Washington is proof that the subject is very polarizing, and there’s going to be hate no matter what you do, so it’s better to be who you are rather than hiding it. He has aspirations to make it to the UFC which would make him the first openly gay male UFC fighter.

Jordan Faulkner

Jordan Faulkner has been openly gay since 2013 at the age of 16. Jordan believes it to be more painful to remain in the closet rather than coming out and facing any hate.

When asked about the situation, he said “ ‘I’ve never been one to fake it. I don’t want to lie to anyone,” said Faulkner. “All of my teammates know and my coaches know. I’ve never been one to keep it a secret. It would be disrespectful to my boyfriend, and it would be disrespectful to all of my teammates and my coaches not to know the true me and who I am.’ ”

Unfortunately for Jordan, he amassed an amateur record of 2-1 but never continued into professional MMA. His last fight was a kickboxing match in 2017 which he lost by unanimous decision.

The Bottom Line

Overall there are many gay UFC fighters, but they’re all females. And while there have been some gay male MMA fighters, none of them have ever been in the limelight and have therefore remained mostly unheard of.

However, with their bravery, they’ve paved the way for a gay male UFC fighter, but when this will happen, no one knows.

From what we’ve seen, the UFC is very open to it as they know it could be very positive not only for their image and the growth of MMA but also from a business aspect as it would bring in a huge new audience.

It’s going to take an extreme amount of courage for the first gay male UFC fighter to come out because we’ve seen the abuse Jeff Molina received in 2022 by merely supporting the Pride colors on his Venum shorts.

Also, not only is courage preventing the first male but sexual preference and fighting are separate matters and many gay fighters see no need to mix them, especially when there’s a high chance it could affect their careers.

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