Are there any gay UFC fighters?
June every year marks Pride month. Yes, the month where millions of members of the LGBTQIA+ community and supporters mark various events around the globe, celebrating the influences of members of the community in their respective disciplines.
In MMA, Pride Month is very much celebrated. From male and female gay UFC fighters to encouraging closet members to reveal their identity to the world, the MMA community embraces Pride month in a spectacular manner.
As welcoming as the MMA is to LGBTQIA+ members, at the apex MMA promotion, reservations persist regarding the acceptability of members to the promotions.
No doubt LGBTQIA+ members abound in the women’s UFC; it is a different reality in the UFC dominated by males.
This article explores the reality of the LGBTQIA+ community in the UFC and also presents the list of male and female openly gay UFC fighters.
Before we delve into our list of UFC gay fighters, the recurring question regarding why no gay fighter exists in the male division of the promotion has to be fairly answered.
Why are there no Openly Gay Male UFC fighters?
In 2009 UFC president, Dana White was captured in a video blog posted on the UFC website in which he took swiped at women and homosexuals.
The obscenity-laden video was a response to a story by a longtime MMA reporter Loretta Hunt of Sherdog.com, which he claimed incorrectly reported on UFC policies and credentialing of managers and agents in relation to their fighters.
The video struck the nerve of the members of the LGBTQIA+ community, such as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), who requested that White apologize.
Though Dana White apologized, this was the first major hint pointing to a rocky relationship between the UFC as well as White and the gay community.
If there were doubts about White and the promotion’s stance on gay fighters in UFC, those doubts were effectively cleared in February 2013.
Dana White revealed that should a UFC male fighter come out openly as gay, he would support such fighters and help with any potential discrimination.
Years down the line, despite the reassuring words of White on supporting male UFC gay fighters, the UFC male divisions boast of no openly gay athletes.
This, however, is not a reflection of anti-gay sentiments in the UFC.
In fact, the UFC star Marc Diakiese dubbed the Bonecrusher, became the first UFC star to appear in a gay magazine.
The fact that no openly gay UFC star exist is not an issue unique to the MMA promotion.
Sports in general, especially male sports, do not have gay athletes.
Most top-flight sports which generate lots of buzz and interest boast of few to zero athletes who openly identify as members of the gay community
This, thus, is no issue peculiar to the UFC but to sports in general.
The Complete List of Gay UFC Fighters
1. Amanda Nunes
The Brazilian MMA star is no stranger to the UFC or the world of mixed martial arts.
Amanda Nunes is one of the most eminent members of the gay community in the UFC but also because she is incredibly talented in what she does.
As of May 2022, Amanda Nunes currently holds the UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship.
Prior to fighting in the UFC, Amanda Nunes fought in the Strikeforce promotions, where she effectively established herself as one of the toughest MMA fighters in the world.
The reputation she created was integral in her short stint with Invicta Fighting Championships before she moved on to the UFC.
In August 2013, Amanda Nunes debuted in the UFC, and about three years later, she emerged as UFC Women Bantamweight Champion.
In December 2018, Nunes added the UFC Women’s Featherweight Championship to her collection.
In a spectacular fight that saw her knockout her opponent in 51 seconds and earned her the Performance of the Night award, Nunes became the first woman in the UFC to simultaneously hold titles in two different divisions.
However, in December 2021, it was a huge deal that she lost her UFC Bantamweight Championship to Julianna Peña.
Amanda Nunes’ notable rise in the UFC made her the first openly lesbian UFC Champion, and she has been using her influence and reach to increase awareness of the LGBTQIA+ community in the UFC.
Nunes is married to UFC women’s strawweight fighter, Nina Nunes (b. Nina Ann Ansaroff). The couple welcomed their first child, birthed by Nina, in September 2020.
2. Raquel Pennington
Ever since her stint in The Ultimate Fighter, the UFC flagship reality show, Raquel Pennington has won over a section of fans that passionately support the MMA star.
In March 2012, the active UFC fighter made her debut in mixed martial arts before going on to Invicta Fighting Championship, where she had a brief stint.
After her time at Invicta, Raquel Pennington was announced as a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate, the eighteenth installment of The Ultimate Fighter reality show.
During the show, the flair and talents of Raquel Pennington were clearly shown to the world.
Her talents did not go unnoticed, as in August 2013, she made her promotional debut in the UFC.
The athlete dubbed Rocky has fought in 22 MMA bouts as of May 2022 and has won 14, losing 8. Raquel Pennington is one of the lesbian UFC fighters who is vocal about her identity.
She revealed to fans candidly how she came out as a lesbian and also conveyed her thoughts on the struggles of being a gay athlete.
Pennington is in a relationship with UFC strawweight fighter, Stevia Torres.
3. Jessica Aguilar
Since the Mexican-American MMA star debuted in the sport in 2006, she has steadily floored numerous opponents in the various MMA promotions she has been privileged to compete in, including the UFC.
Aguilar is predominantly known for her stint in the UFC.
However, she had a memorable career at the Professional Fighters League (formerly known as World Series of Fighting (WSOF), where she became the promotion’s first female champion in 2014.
She defended her title until her voluntary departure from the fighting promotion for her debut on the world’s largest MMA stage, the UFC.
However, her UFC debut did not go as planned as she lost via unanimous decision.
Her debut in the UFC sums up her career in the fighting promotion, which was not the sweet bloom of success she expected it to be as in the WSOF.
In May 2019, Jessica Aguilar was released from the UFC. In October 2020, she joined the Xtreme Fighting Championships and suffered a split decision loss in her promotional debut.
Considering her stance as a lesbian MMA fighter, Jessica Aguilar revealed it has had no negative impact on her career.
4. Lívia Renata Souza
Though not currently a UFC fighter, Lívia Renata Souza’s time in the UFC was memorable as she brought the flair of her Brazilian brand of mixed martial arts to the fighting promotion.
The Brazilian Gangster began her MMA career in 2013, and in no time—in fact—in her Invicta Fighting Championship debut against Finnish fighter, Katja Kankaanpää, she claimed the Strawweight championship.
Souza effectively defended her strawweight title until May 2016, when she lost her five-round title defense bout to American fighter, Angels Hill.
In October 2016, she sighed with the UFC and fought in multiple bouts before she was let go from the promotion in November 2021.
So far in her career, Souza has suffered a loss in the ring on four occasions.
Lívia Renata Souza proudly owns her identity as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community in the UFC as she tagged her Instagram photos with the Brazilian variant of the LGBT tag; #gblt.
5. Tonya Evinger
Triple Threat, as she is known, is one of the MMA veterans who remains relevant after almost two decades of competing in mixed martial arts.
Aside from being one of MMA’s top-rated veterans, Tonya Evinger has a lot that rivals most of her younger contemporaries in the MMA for being the hottest in the sport.
Evinger began her MMA career in 2006, and the following year she began competing in the now-defunct MMA promotion, Elite Xtreme Combat.
After her short stint at Elite Cyrene Combat, she had similar stints at Titan Fighting Championships and was picked to be a part of the UFC flagship reality show, The Ultimate Fighter.
In December 2013, Tonya Evinger moved to the Invicta Fighting Championship, where she made her mark in the MMA.
During her time at Invicta, she claimed the Invicta FC bantamweight title, which she lost, only to reclaim it.
After conquering the Invicta Fighting Championship, she decided to move to the UFC. Evinger was a regular face in the apex mixed martial arts promotion between 2017 and 2019.
During her time at Invicta and the UFC, Evinger was blunt in her remarks and proud of her identity as a lesbian MMA fighter.
She openly jested about her lesbian relationship and sometimes flirted with reporters.
6. Tecia Torres
One of the current gay fighters in UFC who is openly lesbian, Torres, is no stranger to the MMA world.
The star, who is one of the top-rated stars in the UFC female strawweight division, began her MMA career over a decade ago and has established herself as a contender for the UFC Strawweight Championship.
Torres’s major introduction to the sport started in October 2012 when she made her promotional debut in the Invicta Fighting Championship.
Her stint at Invicta was short, as her potential caught the attention of the UFC, who offered her a place in the elite in December 2013.
Tecia Torres was one of the first 11 women signed to the UFC strawweight division and also was a cast member in The Ultimate Fighter reality show.
A year after signing with, Tecia Torres made her debut in the promotion, and since then, she has maintained a reputation as one of the top fighters in the UFC strawweight division.
Torres is open about her sexuality and proudly identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.
She is engaged to Raquel Pennington, the current UFC fighter and former UFC women’s bantamweight title contender.
7. Nina Nunes
Nina Ansaroff Nunes is known not only for her impressive feats in the promotion but also for her romantic relationship with UFC star Amanda Nunes.
The relationship between the duo is so profound that Nunes took the last name of her partner. Nunes who started fighting under her partner’s last name in April 2021 boasts of a stellar career in the UFC.
Way before her foray into the fighting promotion, Nunes fought in other promotions, but it took a single fight in the all-female Invicta FC promotion, for the UFC, to invite her over to the promotion.
Since she arrived at the UFC, she has been in top form, working her way up to a chance at winning a title.
One phenomenal fact that makes Nina Nunes and her partner stand out in the UFC is that they are an openly lesbian couple handling the rigors of the MMA, while raising their daughter, who she birthed in September 2020.
There you have it—the list of the openly gay fighters in UFC.
Though there are no openly gay male UFC fighters, the promotion, through its president Dana White has made known how supportive they will be should any male MMA fighter takes the brave step of coming out.
For the current members of the LGBTQ community in the UFC, there has been mostly no difference in their careers compared to their straight counterparts.
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Featured Image: @ninaansaroff