Heavily scrutinized transgender fighter Fallon Fox (3-0) submitted Allana Jones (2-2) with a rarely-seen north-south, shin-to-throat choke at three minutes and 36 seconds into the third round at Cage Fighting Alliance 11 on Friday at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Fla., advancing to the promotion's featherweight tournament final.
It was Fox's first bout since coming out as the sport's first, on-record transgender athlete on Mar. 5, a controversial announcement that has divided the MMA community and drawn national media attention. Fox underwent gender re-assignment surgery in 2006 and has been on hormone therapy for nearly a decade.
The 37-year-old Fox, who ended her previous two bouts in a combined two minutes and 39 seconds, was likely ahead on the scorecards prior to the tapout, though this was by no means a walkover for the polarizing fighter. Jones, a boxer with excellent footwork, was a challenge for the flat-footed Fox early on, though Fox got some significant punches through as the fight progressed and out-muscled Jones to the ground two times through the second round. On the canvas, Fox clearly excelled with transitions, positioning and submission finesse.
Fox's superior strength was apparent, though not overwhelming enough to argue that she had an unfair advantage over Jones. Regardless, this will be a continued sticking point for detractors, who seemed in ample attendance to condemn Fox's efforts. However, at 3-0, Fox's skill level seems on par with her peers and she has work to do on her waning stamina past the first round.
Jones' most stinging jab at her opponent might have been her less-than-subtle choice of entrance music with Aerosmith's "Dude Looks Like A Lady," but in the cage, it was Fox's night.
Fox, who fights out of Chicago's Midwest Training Center, will face Ashlee Evans-Smith in the women's featherweight tournament finals for a $20,000 grand prize. Smith received a bye to the finals after opponent Anna Barone withdrew from their contest prior to weigh-ins.
Main-event heavyweights Mike Kyle and Travis Wiuff took a backseat to the highly-publicized ladies' bout, but their quick rematch ended the night with an exclamation point.
The heavy-handed Kyle (19-9) flattened top-tier journeyman Wiuff (68-18) with a counter left hook and follow-up shots to earn a technical knockout win 21 seconds into the first round of their rematch. The 35-year-old Wiuff connected first with a right hook, but dropped his hands enough to create the opening Kyle needed.
Wiuff, a two-time UFC veteran, lay grounded for a couple of minutes tended to by medical personnel before he could regain his footing. Kyle and Wiuff's first encounter in 2010 was deemed a no contest, after Kyle threw a punch after the second-round bell.
Rounding out the main card:
? Luis Palomino (21-8) floored Robert Washington (15-8) with a perfectly-timed overhand right for the knockout victory three minutes and 23 seconds into the first round of their lightweight contest.
? CFA interim featherweight champion Sean Soriano (8-0) was just too much on the canvas for previously undefeated challenger Elvin Leon Brito (7-1), who survived to the final bell, but dropped a shutout unanimous decision loss. The 23-year-old Soriano took mount multiple times in the first round and maintained an advantageous top position for the majority of the bout, transitioning seamlessly through a variety of submission attempts with some effective ground-and-pound mixed in. Soriano sliced Brito's face open with a standing knee in the third round, which gushed profusely into the championship rounds. Blackzillian team prospect Soriano is one to watch.
? Aging flyweight veteran Alexis Vila (11-3) defeated Czar Sklavos (7-3) by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27). Sklavos had the 42-year-old Vila on his heels early in the first round, but Vila landed some key takedowns to break up Sklavos' crisp striking and sway the judges.
? Eddie Gordon (6-1) submitted Delgado (6-3) with a rear-naked choke at one minute and 32 seconds into the second round, setting up the finish with an explosive double-leg slam.