Charly Arnolt details historic impromptu UFC cage announcer role: ‘I was scared of messing up’

Charly Arnolt initially declined when UFC producers came to her with a time-sensitive opportunity at UFC on ESPN 55.

With cage announcer Joe Martinez battling illness during Saturday’s card at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, the promotion needed someone to step in to introduce the fighters and read results for a few main card fights.

That’s when Arnolt appeared in the octagon to do the job, becoming the first female cage announcer in the history of the company. It was a significant moment for Arnolt, but it almost didn’t happen.

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,” Arnold said Sunday on her Instagram account. “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 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 and 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, ‘OK, that’s fair. We’ll figure it out.’ He walks away.”

Arnolt said she was with two of the UFC’s makeup artists at the time when approached the opportunity. Mere seconds after she declined, Arnolt’s colleagues encouraged her to step up and pounce on the moment.

“As I’m standing there, the two makeup 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,'” Arnold said. “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 I was like, ‘Listen, if you need me, I can do it. I’m OK.’

“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 I’m freaking out about.”

Arnolt admits she was a nervous wreck as her time arrived. The reaction to her replacement role was overwhelmingly positive, though, with fans, fighters, and media offering near-unanimous praise.

“The time comes, I step into the octagon, I do my first announcement and I did it,” Arnold said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I did it.’ I was kind of in a state of shock. Then obviously, I had to keep going and 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 have 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.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 55.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie