UFC 157, the first card to feature a female bout in the Las Vegas-based promotion’s history, is obviously a landmark event.
Ronda Rousey has received the lion’s share of the attention for her part in bringing women to the Octagon for the first time, and deservedly so. The Olympic judoka is as magnetic outside the cage as she is dominant in it, giving her the type of crossover appeal that few athletes ever achieve. Without Rousey, it is probably safe to say that Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida would still be headlining UFC 157, while the sport’s top female talents would be left to showcase their skills elsewhere.
However, there are two sides to every fight, and Rousey’s opponent, Liz Carmouche, is doing more than just improving gender equity in the Octagon. She is also breaking new ground as the promotion’s first openly gay fighter.
In an interview posted on the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) website , Carmouche discusses how she came to discover mixed martial arts while serving in the Marines, and how it eventually become a life-altering endeavor. While being open with her sexuality was taboo in the military, Carmouche was eventually able to open up to the people she served with in the Marines.
“I expected more backlash,” Carmouche told glaad.org. “I expected people not to accept me for who I was, and I actually experienced the exact opposite.”
As she transitioned to the MMA community, she was welcomed with open arms at Team Hurricane Awesome by coach Manny Hernandez and his team. In fact, it was Hernandez who came up with the catchy moniker “Lizbos” for Carmouche’s supportive legion of fans.
“He wanted to do something that would unite the fans and make them feel like they were connected,” Carmouche said.
So yes, Rousey is the main draw at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., on Feb. 23, but Carmouche is hardly alone -- a supportive legion of “Lizbos” will be watching and cheering her every move.