Well ... this is awkward.
There's a bit of a sticky situation in "The Sunshine State," as the fight license for undefeated featherweight Fallon Fox has come under investigation by Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation, following her first-round knockout win at Championship Fighting Alliance (CFA) last weekend in Coral Gables.
So what's all the hullabaloo?
Turns out Fox is the industry's first female transgender mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter (that we know of). In addition, she underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2006 along with supplemental hormonal therapy, according to a report by SI.com.
On her application, a copy of which was provided to SI.com, Fox stated that she held an MMA combatant's license issued in 2013 by the California State Athletic Commission. However, CSAC Executive Director Andy Foster confirmed that Fox's application for licensure was still under review, though the fighter and her manager, Brett Atchley, believed she had received notice of her licensure in the mail in late February. Licensure secured in other jurisdictions -- particularly in a key state like California -- can weigh heavily on a regulatory body's review of a new applicant's information.
Fox did not -- and was not asked to -- disclose her transgender history. While not unique to the world of sports (see transgender golfer Lana Lawless), this is likely new territory for the athletic commission and it is expected to update its rules on future MMA events.
SB Nation's own OutSports.com speaks to Fox about her place in MMA:
"This [dominance] is pretty common for someone who's an elite fighter with great technique. I've been training for this for five years. It's been all that's been on my mind. Constantly training. And it's just now starting to pay off. With a little more education, they might be able to see that they're wrong. I'm not the only one who's been dominant. I'm technically, legally, physically and mentally female. Everything about me is female. I consider myself a woman. I happen to fall into the transgender category, but I rather describe myself as a woman first, transsexual woman second."
Fox could be knocking out her opponents because she is a very skilled fighter, but the possibility also remains that she has an inherent advantage from being transgender. How do you balance the fairness of the rules against the equal rights for each fighter?