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UFC champion Amanda Nunes embraces being a gay role model

‘I want to help with the things that were hard for me,’ she says.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Jones-Lybarger vs Ansaroff
Nina Ansaroff (left) kisses girlfriend Amanda Nunes after Ansaroff won a UFC fight in January.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Amanda Nunes, the women’s UFC bantamweight champ, is not an openly gay athlete who feels she should just let her sport do the talking. Since taking the title, she realizes she is a role model and is embracing the role.

“Now I know how much weight I carry for being gay, for being a champion, and for being a mirror for many young girls,” Nunes told Fernanda Prates from USA TODAY Sports’ MMA Junkie. “Since childhood, I was already in love with girls. It’s how I’m born, I already felt that way. So I know there are girls who are going through the same things I went through. ...

“With me talking about this, maybe it’s easier for kids who are going through the same things to be more open with their parents and siblings. That they can help, and understand the child, talk to them, be friends with them.

“I want to help with the things that were hard for me. So I think as a champion I can help out a lot. I accomplished my dreams, and I’m gay, I think anyone, running after their goals, earning it, being good, they can make it there. Regardless of orientation, race, everything. The world has enough space for everyone. ... I want to give back somehow, and if this is a good way of doing that, I think I can be very helpful.”

Nunes’ girlfriend is Nina Ansaroff, herself an MMA fighter, and the two openly kiss and hug after matches. In addition to helping LGBT people, Nunes wants to be an advocate for women in sports.

It’s cool that Nunes — who dominated Ronda Rousey in her last fight — realizes that being out is a powerful statement and is willing to speak about it. She has a great platform and is not afraid to use it to try and make a difference.