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Monique Curet
By Monique Curet March 16, 2021

Social media posts mislead about transgender MMA fighter’s injuries to opponents

If Your Time is short

• During her two-year Mixed Martial Arts career, Fallon Fox fractured one opponent’s orbital bone, also known as the eye socket. In the past, Fox has characterized the injury to her opponent as a skull fracture. 

• The photo of the woman with the bloodied face was from an MMA fight that did not involve Fox and which took place several years after Fox’s last MMA bout. 

• MMA is a combat sport and has an overall high rate of injury.

With federal efforts underway to expand transgender rights, claims about transgender people have been rampant, and participation in sports is one particular area of focus. 

One claim making the rounds on social media takes aim at retired transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox, whose last bout was in 2014.

The Facebook post says, "Fallon (Fox), a transgender MMA fighter, has now broken 2 female opponents’ skulls," and shows a photo of Fox alongside an MMA fighter with a severely bloodied face.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

During her two-year MMA career, Fox had one bout that resulted in facial injuries to her opponent — which is not uncommon in MMA — but the Facebook post gets most details wrong. Fox did not break two people’s skulls. And she did not cause the injuries of or ever fight the bloodied person pictured in the post.

Fox is a transgender woman whose sex at birth was male; she underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2006. When she went public with her story in 2013, she became the first openly transgender woman athlete to compete in MMA. 

The Facebook post implies that because Fox’s sex at birth was male, she maintains a physical advantage over her opponents and, as a result, is causing serious injuries. But a study in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine found that MMA fights have an overall high rate of injury, and that the majority of recorded injuries were to the face. 

During a 2014 fight, Fox defeated Tamikka Brents by knockout. One report at the time from a news outlet that covers MMA said that Brents had a concussion, broken orbital bone and required seven staples in her head. 

Fox has commented on her bout against Brents several times on Twitter.  In June 2020, when someone accused her of smashing two women’s skulls open, Fox tweeted, "For the record, I knocked two out. One woman’s skull was fractured, the other not. And just so you know, I enjoyed it." 

In October 2020, replying to a tweet that has since been deleted, Fox tweeted, "I fractured Tamikka Brents skull. And other women have done the same in the sport. You try to make it seem as if I’m the only one who could do that. Why?" 

Then, in February 2021, Fox described Brents’ injuries in different terms. Responding to a claim that seems to mirror the one we are checking, Fox tweeted, "The rumor’s kinda based on another fight where I fractured opponent Tamikka Brents orbital bone years ago. They said I ‘broke her skull.’ As if it split in half & she died. Now there’s rumors that I broke 2 women’s skulls. Never broken anyone’s skull. It’s an orbital fracture!"

In the Facebook post about Fox, the photo that accompanies the claim juxtaposes images of a bloodied fighter and Fox giving thumbs-up signs. The bloodied person pictured is Kay Hansen, who started fighting in MMA bouts in 2017, three years after Fox’s last bout. 

The fight that caused those injuries to Hansen took place in March 2018 against Kal Schwartz, and a media report at the time said that Schwartz "paint(ed) her opponent red" when blood poured out of a wound. 

Fox addressed the photo in a series of tweets last month, saying, "So tired of the fake news circulating that I broke this woman’s skull. The upper photo is fake. ...It was Kal Schwartz — a cis woman — who caused the damage to opponent Kay Hansen that I’m being blamed for!"

Our ruling

A Facebook post says, "Fallon (Fox), a transgender MMA fighter, has now broken 2 female opponents’ skulls," and shows a photo of Fox alongside an MMA fighter with a severely bloodied face.

Fox fractured one opponent’s orbital bone; she did not break two people’s skulls. The photo that juxtaposes Fox with bloodied MMA fighter Kay Hansen is misleading and inaccurate. Hansen’s injuries were sustained in a 2018 fight with Kal Schwartz, and the fight took place years after Fox’s last MMA bout.

The claim contains an element of truth because one person sustained a head injury in a fight with Fox, but it ignores critical facts that would give a different impression and includes a photo that has no association with Fox. We rate this claim Mostly False. 

Our Sources

Archive.is, "Archived tweet," June 16, 2020

Bleacher Report, "MMA Fighter Paints Her Opponent Red After Slashing Elbow, Violent Slam," March 25, 2018

ESPN, Kay Hansen: Fight History," accessed March 15, 2021

Facebook post, March 15, 2021

Harvard Health Publishing, "Eye Socket Fracture (Fracture Of The Orbit)," May 2019

Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, "Incidence of Injury in Professional Mixed Martial Arts Competitions," July 1, 2006

Sports Illustrated, "How Fallon Fox became the first known transgender athlete in MMA," March 7, 2013

Tapology, "Fallon Fox," accessed March 15, 2021

Twitter post, Feb. 20, 2021

Twitter post, Oct. 11, 2020

WhoaTV, "Transgender fighter Fallon Fox sends opponent to hospital," Sept. 15, 2014



 

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Social media posts mislead about transgender MMA fighter’s injuries to opponents

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