Alana McLaughlin’s pro MMA debut Friday was a microcosm of a life of someone trying to stay safe any way possible. That instinct fueled a difficult path through Celine Provost’s 5-inch advantage in reach, and opened the door to a win.
McLaughlin decisively seized her moment in Round 2. She executed a takedown to negate Provost’s height and reach. Once she had the grapple she wanted, McLaughlin applied a rear choke4 hold to force a submission at 1:29 left in the round.
Provost tapped out and McLaughlin, bruised and gashed, let out a yell that was equal parts jubilation and release.
The reaction was a fitting end to a fight and a night that had that special big-fight buzz, despite the event being held without fans due to COVID-19 restrictions.
In the building for the match was trans MMA trailblazer Fallon Fox, watching off stage. Fox was the first out trans athlete to fight in a professional MMA match, and was a mentor to McLaughlin as she prepared for this fight.
Provost entered the ring with a pensive look and a game plan to use her height and reach. She has stated in the pre-fight build up that she was ready to meet the challenge.
“I was glad to have an opponent,” Provost stated on Combate Global’s pre-fight broadcast. “Whoever it is, I don’t care.”
McLaughlin entered the stage with a determined look on her face, pink hair and an azure-salmon-cream trans Pride flag held outstretched like a cape.
The look on her face mirrored her words to Combate Global’s pre-fight broadcast.
“Celine, I appreciate you taking this fight,” she said. “But, don’t have any illusions. I’m coming in there to knock you out.”
In the first round Provost looked like she would put McLaughlin on the canvas. The tall fighter’s boxing skill pressured and stunned the shorter opponent early. “Her reach was so long and she started tagging me immediately,” McLaughlin told Outsports. “She was crisp, clean and fast.”
With two minutes left in the round, McLaughlin responded with a surge of connecting blows. Provost looked to carry the rest of the round, but McLaughlin had sent a message. Her chin had held up and her toughness would help carry out a fight plan to force the boxer into a Brazilian jiu-jitsu roll on the mat.
That toughness led to the moves that forced the submission in the second round. The night would end with McLaughlin’s arm raised, and her first MMA win in the record books.
After the match, there was a hug between competitors and one could sense a great deal of mutual respect. In the hours after the fight, the expected conga line of social media transphobes put forth the same old bromides saying the fight was “unfair”.
A triumphant McLaughlin decisively clapped back, and gave a lot of credit to Provost, who she told Outsports had “legit rocked me more than once”.