UFC star sparks backlash by demanding fight with trans swimmer Lia Thomas - 'Don't like cheaters'

UFC star sparks backlash by demanding fight with trans swimmer Lia Thomas - 'Don't like cheaters'

WATCH NOW: Mark Thomas discusses Lia Thomas

Jack Otway

By Jack Otway

Published: 27/03/2024

- 15:50

The transgender swimmer has previously caused controversy by racing against biological women

UFC fighter Julian Erosa has sparked a backlash after admitting he wants to fight transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.

Thomas, who is nine years Erosa's junior, has caused controversy by competing - and winning - against biological women in the United States.

Thomas initially swam on the men's team at the University of Pennsylvania but, back in 2019, started to transition.

By 2021 she had met the NCAA hormone therapy requirements to swim on the women's team and, the following year, she became the first openly transgender athletes to win an NCAA Division I national championship in any sport after securing victory in the women's 500-yard freestyle.

Julian Erosa

UFC fighter Julian Erosa has called out trans swimmer Lia Thomas


Thomas, by the conclusion of her time at the University of Pennsylvania, was ranked 1st on the women's side in the 500-yard freestyle.

By competing against biological women, she has triggered anger from some corners.

And UFC fighter Erosa, speaking after his win over Ricardo Ramos, criticised Thomas in his post-fight press conference.

"I don't like cheaters, I wanted to call out Lia Thomas," he said.

Erosa started by using Thomas' preferred pronouns before then changing his approach.

“I wanted to encourage her, encourage him, to transition from women’s swimming into women’s MMA, then I’ll transition to become a woman and beat that dude’s a**.”

Erosa added that his statement had been for a 'little bit of shock value'.

And he then targeted former MMA fighter Fallon Fox, who is also transgender, for competing against females.

“I just don’t agree with men in women’s sports,” Erosa said.

“The whole Fallon Fox thing… guys fighting in women’s MMA and knocking them out, it’s a bad look.”

Erosa has been criticised for his comments by some users online, especially given Thomas is no longer swimming against female competitors.

"This is so cringe. The way he called Thomas a 'her' then corrected himself," said one user.

"How did this even get brought up again? This topic is so last year."

A second said: "Big college women’s swimming fan are we Julian? Seems very personal."

A third said: "Erosa a weirdo."


Lia Thomas

Trans swimmer Lia Thomas impressed while swimming against biological women


And a fourth said: "Getting punched in the face too much is bad for the brain."

Erosa said he was happy after beating Ramos with a first-round submission on the preliminary card on Saturday night.

The 34-year-old, discussing the fight, said: “I’m satisfied with the outcome.

"I wish I didn’t get hurt in the process of it. I’m not hurt now, but it looks bad.

"I have a lot of fights where I’ve gotten dropped and stuff like that.

Julian Erosa

UFC star Julian Erosa was too strong for Ricardo Ramos on Saturday night


"People are going to run their mouth about it. I wasn’t necessarily hurt in any specific situation. … But I did see some flashes and I know it looks bad.”

He added: “Every single fight in the UFC, you have a lot of pressure on your shoulders.

"But I’m coming off two losses, so I really needed to get back in the win column.”

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