Liz Carmouche, the openly gay fighter who was the other woman inside the cage the night Ronda Rousey made her debut in the UFC, returns this Saturday on UFC on Fox 8.
Carmouche is not a lipstick lesbian or a traditional glamour girl. She looks more like Linda Perry than Drew Barrymore. She’s not the face of women’s MMA, but she is one of the best female 135-pound fighters in the world and a pioneer in women’s MMA and all of sports.
At a time when an athlete’s sexuality is still news when it’s revealed to the public, Carmouche has already done her part to demystify the “gay-or-straight” sports obsession by coming out several years ago. She’s not a huge activist about it; she just wants people to know who she is, get over it and watch her slug some face.
When the buzz over Rousey dissipates, Carmouche’s contributions will probably be remembered more fondly. She’s not Brian Stann or Tim Kennedy, but Carmouche is also a military veteran, a former U.S. Marine who served as a helicopter technician during three tours of Iraq. She’s an American hero.
Carmouche will fight Jessica Andrade at UFC on FOX 8 Saturday night. As she always does, expect Carmouche to fight tough and strong. She has earned her “Girl-Rilla” nickname. She was seconds away from tapping out Rousey with a wicked neck crank during their Feb. 23 fight in Anaheim, California. As expected, she tapped out to Rousey’s even more wicked armbar a couple of minutes later.
But while Rousey is filming the Ultimate Fighter, appearing on magazine covers and getting ready to shoot the Expendables 3, Carmouche is already back in the cage, now the first openly lesbian fighter to fight on FOX. She won’t be there to turn her sexuality into a gimmick or show.
But she will be there with her rainbow mouthpiece, ready to fight.