Charly Arnolt praises UFC staff after nearly passing on historic ring announcing save: ‘I was scared’

Charly Arnolt almost passed on the opportunity to make UFC history.

The backstage reporter was called upon to make a clutch save this past Saturday at UFC Vegas 91, when ring announcer Joe Martinez was briefly unable to fulfill his duties due to an illness. With little notice, Arnolt stepped in to announce the winner of the Karine Silva vs. Ariena da Silva fight, and stayed on to handle the fighter introductions and result of the Bogdan Guskov vs. Ryan Spann co-main event.

In doing so, Arnolt became the first woman to serve as a ring announcer on a UFC broadcast. Arnolt later made an Instagram post detailing the experience and how close she was to not taking the last-second gig.

“I was assigned as a reporter, that’s my normal responsibility for UFC fight nights, and I’m doing my thing, I’m about to jump on headset with the guys before a fight’s about to begin,” Arnolt said. “The next thing you know, one of my producers, he walks up to me and he was like, ‘Hey, Joe Martinez is sick. His voice is giving out. He doesn’t know if he’s going to be able to do the next few 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 out a solution and figure it out very quickly because time is of the essence, obviously.”

Initially, Arnolt told her producer that she was not comfortable replacing Martinez out of fear making a mistake on national television in a role that she is unfamiliar with. Arnolt has done reporting and provided commentary for several outlets such as Fox News and OutKick, and also previously worked as an on-screen personality for the WWE, but live ring announcing was not on her résumé.

It was two UFC makeup artists that gave Arnolt a pep talk and convinced her to jump on the opportunity.

“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,’” Arnolt said. “I was like, OK, I’m freaking out. But I’m like, ‘You’re right. I have to do it. I can’t say no to this. I can’t back down when the team needs me.’

“So [the producer] swings back around and I was like, ‘Listen, if you need me, I can do it. I’m OK. I’ll figure it out.’ He’s like, ‘We will get you completely prepared.’”

Not only did the backstage staff support Arnolt, Martinez himself was on hand to give her as many pointers as he could before she made the walk to the octagon (Martinez later resumed his duties for the evening’s main event).

Fortunately for Arnolt, the UFC’s faith in her did not go unrewarded as she did an admirable job briefly replacing Martinez. Afterward, she was still in disbelief at what had just happened.

“Time comes, I step into the octagon, I do my first announcement, and ‘Oh my God. I did it. Oh my God, oh my God, I did it,’” Arnolt said. “Honestly, I was kind of in a state of shock, but obviously then I had to keep going and had tons of help from the team.

“The point here is, not only am I thankful for the help that I was given by these people. I am so thankful for the confidence that they gave me. I’m not a person that lacks confidence, I’ve got plenty of it, but I was scared. I was scared of messing up. And if it wouldn’t have been for these wonderful people, the team that pushed me, everybody, I don’t know if I would have ended up doing it. So I’m so thankful that I was pushed outside of my comfort zone because holy crap, I made history, and what a cool thing to now have to look back on. This is something I will never, ever forget.”

This wasn’t first time that one of the UFC’s female reporters showed their versatility. Veteran broadcaster Laura Sanko became the first woman to work as a UFC commentator in the modern era when she took to the desk in February 2023 at UFC Vegas 68 and followed that up by also handling color commentary for UFC 293 the following September.

Sanko has also previously handled ring announcer duties for Dana White’s Contender Series.

Watch Arnolt’s Instagram post below.

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