UFC star launches anti-trans rant against trans swimmer Lia Thomas

Ultimate Fighting Championship star Julian Erosa said he wants to “beat” trans athlete Lia Thomas in a fight during a rant about her past participation in competitive swimming.

During an anti-trans rant following his latest bout on Saturday (23 March), 34-year-old Julian Erosa challenged Thomas, nine years his junior, and repeatedly misgendered the swimmer. 

“I don’t like cheaters,” he said after his win over Brazilian Ricardo Ramos.

“I wanted to call out Lia Thomas,” he said, gendering her correctly before immediately adding: “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*s.”

He added that his statement had been for “a little bit of shock value”, then criticised Fallon Fox, a transgender former MMA fighter, for competing in the women’s category. 

“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.”

Julian Erosa planned to call out Lia Thomas during his post-win octagon interview at #UFCVegas89.

“I don’t like cheaters. … I wanted to encourage him to transition from women’s swimming into women’s MMA, and then I’ll transition into become a woman and beat that dude’s ass.” pic.twitter.com/2dOVt4BlOO

— MMA Junkie (@MMAJunkie) March 24, 2024

Admitting that he is “not the smartest crayon in the box”, the fighter added that he is against trans women taking part in any women’s sports, and claimed that Thomas is “beating all the women” – despite the fact that she has not swum competitively for almost two years.

Thomas only competed in university swimming tournaments for a few months before the end of her college career, but was still subjected to anti-trans comments from the likes of fellow swimmer Riley Gaines and former US president Donald Trump

However, University of Pennsylvania swim team colleagues offered her their “full support”, adding: “We value her as a person, teammate and friend.”

While trans athletes have been targeted by rules limiting their participation in women’s sports, studies have found that transgender women do not have an advantage in elite competitions if they had begun testosterone suppression. 

“There is not one discrete biomarker that allows easy comparison of athletes’ bodies to each other in terms of performance,” one report stated. 

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