I got a chance to sit down yesterday via Skype with Liz Carmouche, 28, a professional mixed martial arts fighter who is openly-gay, and will be competing in the first-ever, women’s UFC title fight against Ronda Rousey on February 23, 2013 on Pay-Per-View (UFC 157: Rousey vs Camouche).
Her opponent Ronda Rousey appears to have sympathies, at the very least, with the Sandy Hook “truthers” – people who think the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre was a hoax created by the government in order to justify a crackdown on guns. Here’s a text copy of Rousey’s tweet to her 168,000 fans, that she’s since taken down, and then a tweet in which she defends disseminating the video claiming Sandy Hook was a hoax:
Extremely interesting? A video claiming the government had 20 children murdered. Here are two screen shots from the video:
Then when Rousey’s tweet disseminating this video became controversial, she tweeted the following:
Oh the patriotism, of sharing a video suggesting the US government had 20 six and seven year old children shot dead in order to help pass legislation in Washington. I may tear up.
I’m not going to bother debunking the delusional, callous and vile assertions of that video here. If you believe that the President ordered an elite team of assassins to kill 20 children or that the incident was entirely fabricated (conspiracy theorists can’t seem to decide which is the case, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering there’s a complete lack of evidence for either), there’s no hope for you. But those are the theories that Rousey is endorsing. She’s not just “asking questions”; by posting that video, she’s implicitly promoting the notion that Sandy Hook is a ploy by a tyrannical government. (While Jon Fitch also posted the same video, he immediately questioned its authenticity and readily acknowledged its fraudulence when confronted with evidence.)
I talked to Liz about being openly-gay and a woman in professional sports, about her nearly six years in the US Marines, and about growing up lesbian. Unfortunately, I didn’t know her opponent had sympathies with the “truthers” when I interviewed Liz or I’d have brought it up during the interview. (H/t to FatRat in the comments for tipping me off about the Rousey being a truther. As FatRat noted ironically in the comments, “I’m not sure who I’m going to root for, the gay Marine Corps Veteran or the Sandy Hook Truther.”)
MMA is basically a mix of kickboxing, boxing, martial arts, and jiu jitsu. The thing is, up until now, the premiere MMA organization, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), has only permitted male mixed martial arts fighters. That’s why the upcoming match between Liz and Ronda Rousey is such a big deal. The hope is that the UFC will see merit in women MMA matches, and continue the fights beyond this upcoming one.
Liz is a joy to interview. She’s just so much fun, energetic, smart, thoughtful, and that smile – she has a never-ending smile. If both of us weren’t gay, I’d be in love. Seriously though, she’s quite impressive, and not at all like her scary-faced tough-gal publicity photos. She’s a really smart, interesting woman. I hope she keeps talking about what it’s like to be gay in professional sports, because I think she could really make a difference.
Liz has no problem talking about being gay, and in fact sees it as a bit of a selling point for her career in MMA. Liz’s fans, many of whom are lesbians, but certainly not all, even have a nickname for themselves that Liz laughs about: Lizbos.
At one point I asked Liz if it made sense to keep male MMA and female MMA competitions separate. She said it did make sense, but she could still beat the guys because she’s so strong. Her extraordinary strength earned her the nickname “Gorilla.” Though it’s spelled: “Girlrilla.”
The interview is around 17 minutes long, so watch at your leisure. It’s fun.