Alana McLaughlin, the second openly transgender woman to compete in MMA in the United States, won her debut Friday night via a submission to the Combate Global prelims in Miami, Fla.
The 38-year-old used a choke in the back against Celine Provost to end the game 3 minutes and 32 seconds after the start of the second round.
McLaughlin, who began her gender transition after leaving U.S. Army Special Forces in 2010, said she hopes to be a trailblazer for trans athletes in combat sports.
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“I want to take back the mantle that Fallon took off,” McLaughlin told Outsports ahead of the fight, referring to Fallon Fox, who in 2012 became the first transgender woman to fight in MMA. “Right now I’m following in Fallon’s footsteps. I’m just one more step on the path and it’s my great hope that there is more to follow behind me.”
Fox, who sat at the edge of the cage on Friday, last fought in 2014. Four years later, Patricio Manuel became the first transgender man to compete in a professional boxing match in the United States when he defeated Hugo Aguilar by unanimous decision.
McLaughlin started training a year ago and was cleared to fight by the Florida State Boxing Commission after having his hormone levels tested, according to ESPN.
She said it was a “nightmare” to find an opponent.
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“I only have respect for [Provost]McLaughlin said.
The fight was originally scheduled for August 6 but was postponed after Provost, a 35-year-old boxing and MMA veteran, tested positive for the coronavirus.
Provost landed several punches in the first round before McLaughlin won.
As she was declared victorious, McLaughlin wore a shirt with the phrase “End Trans Genocide” on it.
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Its debut comes as several states are backing bills to restrict the participation of transgender athletes in youth, high school and college sports.
“If we’re going to see more trans athletes, if we’re going to see more opportunities for trans kids, we’re going to have to work in those spaces and make it happen,” McLaughlin told Outsports. “It’s time for trans people to play sports and become more normalized.”