Live UFC events have almost exclusively always been commentated upon by men, and Sanko, who has worked her way up to become a host and reporter for FOX and ESPN since first taking the microphone for the all-female IFC in 2013, admits her target is a “tough” one that will take years to realize.
The 37-year-old was victorious in her only professional fight more than seven years ago after winning four of her five amateur contests, and believes her experience and knowledge of the sport has impressed fans as she targets her dream of being “part of that booth.”
“I think they really like to have former UFC fighters there,” she told MMA Junkie.
“Over the years, I feel like behind the scenes, in production meeting and even just hanging out, I’ve been able to kind of demonstrate to all of the guys…that I really do know what the hell I’m talking about.
“I can tell that over time people have started to realize I do really understand the game and can provide on the spot analysis of what’s happening in a fight.”
Sanko said her experiences with fellow fighter-turned-broadcaster Michael Bisping, two-time bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and lightweight contender Paul Felder had proven her potential to become the first major female UFC commentator.
The American is known for her witty comebacks to critics on social media and is continuing to prepare for UFC 249, which she insists will go ahead on May 9 after being postponed earlier this month.
Many respondents were supportive of the idea and praised Sanko’s skills on Twitter, opposed by unimpressed viewers who threatened to mute her commentary and called for UFC Fight Pass host Megan Olivi, who is married to flyweight number two Joseph Benavidez, to be given more air time instead.
“I sometimes get down about social media and all that comes with it,” Sanko told her following of more than 100,000 on Instagram last week, having shown off her ripped torso and described herself as “getting that Fight Island body ready.”
Hours before news of her ambitions to become a key commentator emerged, Sanko posted a photo of herself in a crop top and shorts, following up a snap of herself backstage at a UFC event with rapper Snoop Dogg.
She admitted that she nearly cried while covering the story of middleweight Ian Heinisch on UFC president Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, telling the UFC’s website: “It just comes from the heart. That sounds kind of cheesy to say, but I could do one of those on three or four fighters every week.
“This job, to a large degree, fills the gap that not fighting anymore created in me.”