Jon Anik: ‘The best is yet to come’ for Laura Sanko on UFC color commentary

The UFC’s 2023 calendar year has been filled with memorable moments, chaos, and historical firsts — which includes Laura Sanko making her pay-per-view debut at September’s UFC 293 event.

Sanko joined Daniel Cormier and lead play-by-play voice Jon Anik to call the card in Sydney, which saw Sean Strickland become the middleweight champion with a lopsided unanimous decision win over Israel Adesanya in the main event. Reflecting on past events, Anik couldn’t be happier Sanko got the opportunity to become the first female color commentator on a pay-per-view of the modern era, and expects Sanko to shine even more in the future.

“I love Laura Sanko, I’m so happy she got the opportunity,” Anik told MMA Fighting.

“I do believe that there wasn’t a lot of grappling [at UFC 293] at all, even though there were a few submission wins, and where I think she will really shine for people is her ability to talk jiu-jitsu and talk grappling, so the best is yet to come when it comes to Laura Sanko.”

Anik has had an extremely busy year with multiple events, and a host of international travel. He’ll cap off 2023 with UFC 296 in December, headlined by Leon Edwards vs. Colby Covington for the welterweight championship.

Looking back on the September pay-per-view offering, Anik recalls the broadcast fondly, and hopes Sanko can take pride and what she accomplished that night in Australia.

“I’ve worked with probably 15, 16 different combinations and I always like to have an elite grappling analyst to my right, and more often than not on fight night, I have that,” Anik explained. “She’s comedic, she has good timing, she doesn’t have an ego.

“I don’t have enough high praise for Laura Sanko. She and I have been publicly and privately supporting each other for so long, and it was just very cool to see her in all her glory, and to be able to make a debut on a pay-per-view in Sydney in that atmosphere was pretty special. Hopefully, she’ll be looking back upon that with her family for years to come.”

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