The debate surrounding the inclusion of transgender athletes in sports has been a present topic in recent years. Last month, the WBC — regarded as boxing’s most prestigious governing body — reached its conclusion on the matter, banning trans fighters from competing against their stated gender. With that, the organization joins the likes of FINA, which oversees competitive swimming worldwide, and USA Powerlifting.
But while a recent mixed martial arts bout pitted a trans-identifying woman against a cisgender male, it still caused controversy and mixed views online.
The bout in question came this past June at World Class Fight League 22. Ahead of an all-professional main card, the event featured a number of amateur contests, one of which saw Shane Mistretta share the cage with transgender woman Gita-Marie Figueroa.
The fight saw a somewhat back and forth start, which included Figueroa — who entered the bout with a 1-0 record — chasing a leg lock. But after a clinch against the cage, Mistretta’s pressure paid dividends, with a left hand sending Figueroa to the ground.
When the fight was posted on Twitter, a number of athletes gave their take on the unique matchup, including the UFC’s middleweight king.
Adesanya Questions “Weird” Booking
Having seen footage of the first-round knockout online, Adesanya took to Twitter and gave a firm take on the pairing.
After suggesting that those kinds of fights feel “weird,” the Nigerian-New Zealander questioned who organized and approved the contest.
“This just feels weird. Who sanctioned this? Why we allowing this??” Adesanya wrote.
Interestingly, this perhaps represents the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to allowing transgender athletes to compete.
While the discussion has mostly surrounded competition that sees trans-identifying women facing cisgender women, and vice versa, the bout between Mistretta and Figueroa did what some have called for, and what many official governing bodies have ordered — that is, having transgender athletes compete against those of their biological sex.
Many will no doubt point out that the debate can’t go both ways. Either an advantage is gained through transition, meaning that trans-identifying females shouldn’t be allowed to face cisgender females, thus forcing them to face their biological sex (à la Mistretta vs. Figueroa), or if it’s determined that the trans athlete would then be at a disadvantage against their biological sex, the argument to separate trans athletes from their cisgender counterparts goes out the window.
The topic is certainly a polarizing one and will likely continue causing discourse and various sporting rulings in the coming months and years.
What do you make of Israel Adesanya’s reaction to the fight?