Laura Sanko has been integral to UFC broadcasts in recent years as a reporter, host, analyst, and last year becoming the first woman in the Zuffa era to serve as a color commentator when she did so on Dana White’s Contender Series.
And yet, even though Sanko has proven her worth in each of those roles, she hears from people all the time on social media who question her credentials.
“There is a whole contingent of people out there that think I got this job in some untoward and scandalous way,” Sanko said Tuesday during an appearance on Blockasset’s “BLOCK Party.” “I can assure you that’s not how it happened.”
Sanko, 39, used to be a fighter, with five amateur bouts on her resume from 2010 to 2012 and a lone professional fight she won on Jan. 5, 2013 at Invicta FC 4. She got her start in broadcasting with Invicta shortly after and worked her way up from there.
Sanko might look a certain way that’s pleasing to a male-dominated audience, but you can be sure that when she provides analysis on UFC broadcasts, her insight comes from experience.
Not everybody understands this, which isn’t always easy for Sanko to deal with.
“It’s a weird thing because on one hand, people will be like, ‘She only has this job because she looks a certain way.’ And then the next comment will be, ‘Oh, she looks a certain way, so there’s no way she could possibly have anything intelligent to say,’” Sanko said. “Like anything, I’m learning to deal with it because it’s certainly something that’s ramped up more as the UFC has started to put me in these positions to have opinions.
“But it helps that the people who sit next to me – the Anthony Smiths of the world, the Rashad Evans’s of the world, the Michael Bispings, the Paul Felders, the Daniel Cormiers – that I think people can sense they have a certain amount of respect for me and therefore the fans should, as well. I really owe a lot to my male co-workers who are making a spot for me at the table.”
Because Sanko occupies that seat with pride, one might consider her a trailblazer in the sport, but she has a hard time accepting that title.
“Every time someone says that word to me, it makes me want to tear up honestly,” Sanko said. “But then it also makes me … I don’t yet feel worthy of that. I want to be worthy of that. I do want to be that. I guess if I really sit back and go through my DMs, at some point I’m going to have to admit that there is an element of that. It’s just hard for me to use that word for myself.”