A strong, confident fighter with a determined look and stride bounded toward the cage. A flowing azure-salmon-cream flag, the colors representing transgender pride and resistance, created a wake behind her.
The T-shirt she wore exclaimed these words: END TRANS GENOCIDE.
The symbolism represented a paradigm shift that was a world away from Fox’s maiden MMA bout in 2012.
“I wish my first MMA fight would have been like that, but I wasn’t out for my first fight,” Fox remembered with a wistful pride. “She came out in her first MMA fight as an out and proud transgender woman.
“That was a pretty amazing thing to see. I was sitting there watching history.”
In an interview on this week’s edition of The Trans Sporter Room, Fox chimed in as a guest analyst. She also worried and gushed like a proud mama as she broke down a rough start that saw McLaughlin’s opponent, Celine Provost. take control of the first round with an arsenal of punches that put McLaughlin on her heels.
“Alana kept coming straight through the center, and part of what Provost was doing was coming from the sides and hitting her with jabs,” Fox observed. “That is what was messing up the game plan.”
How It Started
Fox was a prime catalyst toward McLaughlin being in the fight at all. They first crossed paths as McLaughlin was trying navigate her identity, as well as her life after a stint in the United States Army that included a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Fox was navigating a life in and out of MMA.
“I met her on Facebook and this was at the beginning of her transition,” Fox recalled. “And I’ve watched her whole transition all the way through.”
For McLaughlin, transition was critical to her well-being.
“If I did not transition I would be dead,” she stated to Outsports in July. “For me, it’s a slog. It was a hard fight, an uphill battle. It was like Special Forces training. You don’t know when it ends. They just tell you to go. It’s been a process.”
McLaughlin also had a dream as a longtime fan of mixed martial arts. She wanted to take her shot at being a fighter.
Who better to teach her than Fox? From 2012 to 2014, Fox fought six matches, winning five. She absorbed the blows in the cage and the transphobic barbs and snide remarks about her outside of it.
Fox noted McLaughlin’s military training in combatives. Such tactics, and their potential in MMA, are something Fox experienced in her debut fight against Elisha Helsper in 2012. A specialist in the Idaho National Guard, Helsper finished runner-up in the National Guard’s combatives tournament in 2010.
“A lot of people are saying that combatives is something that isn’t used in MMA, and it's never been done in women’s competition,” Fox stated. “My first fight was against a fighter with combatives training, and that added to why I thought it could work.”
A visit to see Fox in person in 2019 solidified her support for the hopeful. By then, McLaughlin had been training for six months.
They would train, and Fox would impart some hard-earned wisdom about MMA as a sport and a business. At one point however, the teacher put the student up to the ultimate test. They had some sparring sessions.
“She kinda of like hurt my leg with a kick,” Fox said with a proud grin slowly forming on her face. “I said ‘okay, she’s going to be pretty good’. She could hold her own against me. I know from experience with her that it would work.”
Within a year, the road to last Friday would be paved and travelled. Fox got together with Combate Global, who were looking for fresh talent for their lineup. They were told about a 38-year-old hopeful living in Portland, Ore., with raw talent and a backstory.
A few months later, McLaughlin would bunker into a training bubble in South Florida. The legend and trailblazer gave counsel from afar. As the fight date approached, Fox was on a plane from her home in Los Angeles, to a meeting with destiny in Miami.
How It Went
Alana McLaughlin entered the second round having survived a stern test of her chin administered by a skilled boxing technician from France. Celine Provost held to her strategy. McLaughlin, in her first fight ever, kept probing for a chance to apply her strategy.
With 2:39 left in round two, a stiff left jab by McLaughlin created an opening. She slipped under Provost’s counter and was able to achieve a takedown. With the taller opponent on the mat, Provost’s reach advantage was nullified.
“Provost is an experienced fighter and Alana hasn’t had any amateur matches,” Fox noted. “She went straight to pro because she was having trouble finding fights. But, Alana’s got more ground technique so I wasn’t surprised when it was going in that direction.”
The next minute found McLaughlin working her ground game to hold the advantage. She worked into position to apply a rear naked choke. Provost finally gave in under the strain. She tapped out at 1:29 left in round two.
McLaughlin let out a joyous whoop. Fox felt relief and pride as she saw her winning protegé with a hand raised in victory.
“I knew this would be a tough fight for her,” Fox said. “But I was just relieved that she ended up winning.”
How It’s Going
The picture blazoned across Fox’s Twitter told the story of two women on a sunny day with massive ice cream cones and satisfied smiles. There was also an underlying smirk to the detractors.
In the hours after the fight, there were the expected slurs, but there was also a lot of supporters ready to clapback fiercely.
Former UFC Champion Jake Shields learned this fact the hard way when he tried to demean McLaughlin’s win with banal transphobia using a copy-paste set of pictures of the winning fighter. The sequence showed McLaughlin as a bearded special forces troop on one side, and McLaughlin, sleek and toned, at peak pre-fight readiness on the other.
“People were giving him the business,” Fox said with certain snarky glee about the largely pro-Alana response to Shields. “You can see the juxtaposition of the photo of her pre-transition and the photo after. It was such a self-own.”
One of those who gave him the business was McLaughlin in a classy, jabbing retort that was pure Fallon Fox energy.
“I’m liking how things are going today as opposed to when I came out,” Fox noted on the proud support and applause for the win from many corners. “That is progress and I think that is going to continue and not just for Alana, but for all transgender athletes going forward.
“This is a really exciting time. I am glad that we have this representation.”
Fallon Fox had even more to say about Alana McLaughlin’s debut, and also about what’s next for the legend, including an update on a planned movie on her life and she’s on a bubblegum card, too. Catch the complete interview in this week’s edition of The Trans Sporter Room. Check it out on Megaphone, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple podcasts, and many other platforms for Outsports podcasts as well.