clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

'Pride Fighter': Short film in the making about gay mixed martial artist

There are practically no openly gay MMA fighters. Largely due to fear of discrimination and career drawbacks. Now a fictional short film wants to deal with that issue.

Alex is a young and aspiring amateur MMA fighter whose big dream it is to fight in the big leagues one day. There is only one problem: Alex is gay. And as soon as he comes out with his homosexuality, he gets discriminated against and eventually rejected by his training partners, leaving him with no one to train for his first fight and ultimately having to decide between fighting and the love of his boyfriend.

This is the plot of a fictional short film called "Pride Fighter", a project by University of Alabama film student Danny Ryan, who wrote the screenplay and is directing the movie. Ryan is straight, but came up with the idea for the film while training mixed martial arts himself.

"Although the MMA community can be fraternal and welcoming, it is also aggressive, masculine and high in testosterone. In my experience, some athletes in the sport tend to be uncomfortable and intolerant towards gay people. To me, this is ironic given that MMA usually involves two members of the same sex getting very close. I think it's the overall mentality that the sport emits and this culture that it has created that inspired this idea. After coming up with the idea, I used athletes like [football player] Michael Sam and [boxer] Orlando Cruz (not specific MMA fighters) as some inspiration for the experience of coming out in male dominated sport and community. [...] The film explores the masculine identity of a mixed martial arts fighter, how they view themselves, and how the sport is perceived."

(Transcription via

This project is very interesting, because recent studies suggest that around two percent of the male US population are gay. But yet, to this day, not a single male fighter from UFC, Bellator or other big promotions has come out. UFC president Dana White may have begged gay athletes in his organization to come out, but the fear of discrimination and career drawbacks still seems to be higher than the potential reward of public sexual identity fulfillment.

Ryan has launched a Kickstarter campaign to finance the movie. The campaign already exceeded the goal of $4,000 by 500. You can watch Ryan's Kickstarter pitch video with more information on the film above.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Bloody Elbow Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your MMA and UFC news from Bloody Elbow