BURBANK, Calif. -- UFC president Dana White has said that the biggest regret of his tenure in running the world's largest mixed martial arts organization came a few years back, when he ran a video blog in which he used a derogatory term for homosexuals.
Now, the company has signed it's first openly gay fighter, Liz Carmouche, who will challenge Ronda Rousey for the UFC women's bantamweight title in the main event of UFC 157. And White says he hopes Carmouche isn't the last.
Speaking at a media luncheon promoting the Rousey-Carmouche fight, White said "There's a lot of gay athletes out there and actors and actresses. It takes a brave person to come out and admit it because they're always afraid of what its going to do to their career or how people are going to treat them afterwards."
"I love what she did. I know I have the big ‘homophobe' persona and people think I'm some homophobe. I'm the furthest thing from it. I think it's ridiculous it's 2013 and the government tells two people they can't marry each other. Who is the government to tell two people who say they love each other they can't be married? It's ridiculous."
On Carmouche, who served as a Marine Corps sergeant before going into mixed martial arts and making her personal life public knowledge, White said "I applaud that she came out and that she's the first one. Good for her. I hope more do. It doesn't bother me one bit. Shouldn't bother anyone else either."
As for Rousey, who has made a reputation in part by trash-talking her opponents, she's taken a different approach to Carmouche.
"I like Liz," she said. "She's a Marine, I'm not going to be able to intimidate this girl. The prefight intimidation stuff won't work, I won't have that advantage I usually have over my competition. Because it's a first-time event, because the first time for women to fight on a UFC card, and she's the first openly gay fighter, it doesn't need to be any squabbling or argument. It's an extraordinarily positive thing, we don't need an argument to push it. It's a positive event and I don't mind there being no arguments. It sells itself. It's history."