UFC on FOX Sports 1 host, Karyn Bryant, has been covering mixed martial arts (MMA) for nearly a decade now and has seen all of the major changes in the sport these last few years.
So, with UFC 193 set for Melbourne, Australia, on Saturday night (Nov. 14, 2015) with both Ronda Rousey and Joanna Jedrzejczyk defending their titles in the main and co-main event, Bryant was asked to think back to when she started covering the sport and if she ever thought she'd see the day where two female fights would be sitting atop a massive pay-per-view (PPV) card.
"To be honest I didn't," she said. "My sports coverage started in boxing — and certainly there are women boxers and are heavily regarded but never became that popular — so just seeing female fighting become popular in and of itself is I think, amazing. To imagine two female fighters, two champions would be the main and co-main events on arguably the biggest show, is really incredible.
"I think it’s fantastic. I was cageside the first time when Ronda fought on that first card in L.A., when she fought Liz [Carmouche] and it was literally bulging with excitement. I remember thinking ‘this is history here.’ And that fight was so good. To see where they are now, it really is amazing. And the fact that there are two female fights headlining this card is really something special."
The success of the two champions has certainly rubbed off on Bryant as a positive influence and a source of both motivation and inspiration. Being a female broadcaster is not always easy, especially In a field that is largely dominated by a male presence. Female broadcasters have fought long and hard for not only their craft and profession, but to avoid negativity as well.
"For a long time women were just an accessory and they weren’t expected to know much or their opinion wasn’t really that valued," Bryant explained. "I feel like there were some times where you could tell people didn’t take you 100 percent seriously, but you had to keep working. Certainly when this [UFC 193] comes along, it wakes people up that not only are females incredible athletes, but at the same time, those of us covering the sport have a very special view and insight into maybe what these women are going through themselves. It certainly does help."
Bryant, 46, has been a mainstay on UFC coverage on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) since the channel launched in the summer of 2013, and there are other female hosts, as well. Megan Olivi has done quite a bit for UFC.com and Fight Pass, as well as episodes of Ultimate Insider on FS1. Heidi Androl has been a backstage interviewer on Fight Night cards, and the No. 1-ranked UFC women's bantamweight, Miesha Tate, has done an admirable job as an analyst.
"They are doing a great job and are helping build the group of women broadcasters involved with the sport," Bryant said.
Bryant would "absolutely" love to see more women covering the sport of MMA and said as far as more women fighters joining the broadcast team, it's only a matter of time until we see more.
"Paige VanZant is going to be on UFC Tonight with us," she revealed. "Really what it is, is I came in with a lot of broadcasting experience and I’ve covered the sport since 2006 and it is just going to take a little bit of time to have enough women in the sport who can then transition into being behind the desk as well. Miesha has done a great job. Obviously, Paige is going to be here. I’ve asked Ronda about it, I don’t know if she has a great deal of interest in doing that. But, certainly there are other people. Julie Kedzie, who does things with Invicta. There are certainly women who are interested. And I know there are more people who want to get into it. It is going to be nice to have more women there as well."
The veteran broadcaster will be the lead host this weekend for the pre- and post-fight activities alongside Rashad Evans, Daniel Cormier, and Frank Mir, who makes his FS1 debut. It will be the first time three UFC champions (former or current) have all been behind the desk at one time.
"It is going to be a lot of testosterone," Bryant joked. "I’ve worked, obviously, with all of them before. It is something special. I know for me, sometimes — not that I don’t take it all in — I look down the panel and we’ve done some amazing shows. It’s incredible and there are times I look down the panel and think to myself what a great deal of respect I have for these people and what a treat it is for me to be able to sit here with them and talk with them about something that all of us are so passionate about. I’m sure this will be a really special weekend."