Florida State Boxing Commission officials are reviewing the mixed martial arts license of Championship Fighting Alliance women's featherweight tournament participant Fallon Fox after learning she is a transgender female.
Fox revealed her original gender to SI.com on Monday, two days after Fox landed a knee to the chin of Ericka Newsome, who was knocked out in 39 seconds of their quarterfinal bout in Coral Gables, Fla.
It is believed that Fox is the first transgender male or female to participate in an MMA event.
Neither FSBC officials nor CFA founder and CEO Jorge De La Noval was aware that Fallon was a trangender female. On the application she submitted March 1 for a Florida fighting license, Fallon listed her gender as female.
De La Noval said Fox was "heartbroken" as news of her 2006 sexual reassignment surgery went public, drawing intense scrutiny and criticism from fellow MMA fighters as well as triggering an investigation as to whether the 37-year-old was properly licensed for last weekend's fight.
"As a promoter, obviously everyone who comes into my office, what I see is a fighter," De La Noval said. "I don't ask anyone what their sexual preference is. What they do with their personal life is not my business. She's a sweet girl. ... And where we stand as a company is that she's a female. She has an Illinois driver's license (as a female). She's a female and she's definitely a fighter. I just don't see how anybody can revoke her license."
Fox claimed to be licensed in California, but her application still is being reviewed by that state's athletic commission.
The confusion, said Fox's agent Brett Atchley, came after a journalist who knew Fox's previous identity began inquiring about her. Atchley said they then went to a reporter he knew from SI.com, who wrote the story earlier this week.
"The bone of contention for Fallon seems to be people characterizing her as dishonest and manipulating, that she somehow manifested her destiny by saying, 'I'm going to have this operation and then I'm going to be a fighter and world champion,' " Atchley told ESPNChicago.com.
During its rules workshops next week, FSBC officials plan to address how to proceed with applications submitted by transgender fighters.
"There is nothing on her application for a license that indicates anything of that nature," FSBC spokeswoman Sandi Copes Poreda told ESPN.com Wednesday.
"We are currently investigating some allegations related to the information provided on the application.
"The commission is in the process of updating its rules for professional MMA events, and this particular topic will be part of our workshops on March 15. We'll have additional information about the rules workshops after it's completed."
In the meantime, De La Noval is standing fully behind Fox, though he did not learn of her transgender status until after Saturday night's fight. He has no intention of removing her from the tournament.
"She [currently] has a license by the Florida State Boxing Commission as a female; she's going to stay in the tournament," De La Noval told ESPN.com. "She's a female fighter to us. And we're standing behind her when it comes to that.
"We're not going to kick her out of the tournament. She's going to continue fighting for CFA.
"It wouldn't be fair to cut her out of the tournament now. There's a lot of money on the line for her that she needs. She's a great fighter."
De La Noval said that Fox was scheduled to return to action April 20, but with all of the controversy surrounding her competitive license in Florida, the bout has been postponed.
There is a discrepancy over how many MMA fights the 5-foot-6 Fox has had. De La Noval said it is his understanding that Fox has fought three times professionally, though he's heard she has competed in as many as five fights.
Despite the number of bouts Fox has under her belt, De La Noval is convinced she is a high-caliber mixed martial artist.
"We want to give her a couple of weeks to get that license cleared," De La Noval said. "She's obviously a fighter. There's no doubt in anybody's mind that she is a fighter.
"But is she going to get a female license? That's what the whole debate is about now."
De La Noval said other fighters have been calling, and he is getting mixed reaction.
"It has gotten to the point where some are saying, 'I'm fighting her in the next round. Am I fighting a male or female? What's the deal?' " he said. "I told them the same thing. I'm not pulling her from the tournament. She's a female fighter and if she goes all the way, she's going to be my champion and I'm very proud of her. It's just a matter of time before we see how this plays out."