Esther Lin for MMA Fighting
The UFC's PR team has aggressively pushed Liz Carmouche, the organization's first openly gay fighter, to gay media outlets like Outsports and Americablog with good success, unfortunately that coverage hasn't always been kind to her opponent, UFC champ Ronda Rousey.
Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche headlines UFC 157 and the UFC has put a pretty savvy promotional campaign behind their first ever women's fight. Dave Meltzer talked about their promotional strategy in his review of the UFC 157 Primetime special for the Wrestling Observer (subscription required):
(The bout is) clearly positioned as a face vs. face, which it has to be since they don't want Rousey as a heel, nor should they. Carmouche simply can't be a heel and they didn't even get heavily into her serving in the Marines.
The most impressive thing was the way they handled Carmouche being a lesbian, in the sense it was exploitive, didn't make her out to be a freak, nor did they do the "Look at us, we can put a lesbian in a main event," that an awful lot of promoters would have done in the same situation. I like to say Dana is like Vince, and in a lot of ways, he is, but on this subject, Rousey for sure, and double Carmouche, it was a 180 degree difference.
As part of their promotion of the bout, the UFC PR team has been pitching Carmouche to gay media outlets. They got a nice story out of it from Outsports where Liz shared a painful story about being a closeted lesbian in the marines in Iraq:
"My best friend in the Marines, her name is Kim, said one day while we were in Iraq that homosexuals in the Forces should be put on the front line because they deserved to die. This was my best friend talking" Carmouche said. "I knew then I couldn't come out to anyone but, when I left the Marines, I called Kim and let her know ‘Hey, I'm one of those people you wanted killed.'
"I was very blunt about how she'd make me feel... and she did a total 180. She told me she loved me and would never, ever want to see me get hurt. She said the way she grew up, she'd never met a gay person and didn't know what she was talking about.
Liz also did an interview with the progressive politcal site Americablog and really came across well as an ambassador for the sport:
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.
Unfortunately the site's writers were much less impressed when they found out about Ronda Rousey's infamous Sandy Hook tweet:
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 the Americablog interview with Carmouche, fortunately it took place before the Americablog interviewer knew about Rousey's tweet: