UFC’s first female ring announcer Charly Arnolt admits: ‘I was scared of messing up’

Charly Arnolt has admitted to feeling “scared” before becoming the first female ring announcer in UFC history, after she stepped up on short notice on Saturday.

Midway through the UFC’s Fight Night event on Saturday (27 April), at the promotion’s Apex facility in Las Vegas, ring announcer Joe Martinez fell ill. That left producers scrambling for a replacement for the final few fights on the ESPN broadcast.

Now TV presenter Arnolt, 36, has recounted the events that led her to step in for Martinez, in what was a historic moment in the UFC.

“One of my producers walked up to me, and he’s like, ‘Hey, Joe Martinez, the Octagon announcer, is sick. His voice is giving out,’” the American said on Instagram on Sunday (28 April).

“‘He doesn’t know if he’s going to be able to do the next announcements, can you do it?’ I was like: ‘I’m sorry, what are you asking me?’ He’s like: ‘Listen, if you’re not comfortable, you can say so, but we need to figure it out very quickly, because time is of the essence obviously.’

“So, I told him. I was like: ‘Listen, I have to be honest, I don’t know that I’m comfortable doing this.’ Why did I say that? Because obviously I was scared [about] botching an announcement on national television on ESPN. I’ve never done this responsibility for UFC, and I was scared. So, I told them: ‘I don’t think I can do it.’ He said, ‘Okay, that’s fair, we’ll figure it out.’ He walks away.

“As I’m standing there, the two make-up artists for UFC, they look at me and they’re like: ‘What’s wrong with you? Of course you can do it. You’re super talented, you’re a professional. Why would you say you’re uncomfortable? You need to do it.’ I was freaking out, but I was like: ‘You’re right, I have to do this. I can’t back down when the team needs me.’ So, [the producer] swings right back around, and I was like: ‘Listen, if you need me, I can do it. I’m okay.

Charly Arnolt worked with WWE before joining ESPN, which broadcasts the UFC (Getty Images)
Charly Arnolt worked with WWE before joining ESPN, which broadcasts the UFC (Getty Images)

“He said, ‘We will get you completely prepared,’ so I was in the back and [the producers are] helping me, as well as Joe Martinez – who is just giving me every ounce of knowledge that he has, to help me get through these announcements that I’m freaking out about.

“The time comes, I step into the Octagon, I do my first announcement, and [...] I was kind of in a state of shock. Then, obviously, I had to keep going [with] tons of help from the team. The point here is: Not only was I thankful for the help I was given by these people, I am so thankful for the confidence that they gave me. I’m not a person who lacks confidence, I’ve got plenty of it, but I was scared.

“I was scared of messing up, and if it hadn’t been for the wonderful people that pushed me, I don’t know if I would’ve ended up doing it. I’m so thankful I got pushed out my comfort zone, because holy crap, I made history.”