The FightPost Interviews: Caroline Pearce
A life and career can have many unexpected different twists and turns, and for Caroline Pearce that most definitely has been the case.
A career as an international heptathlete somehow led to Caroline taking part in the world championships in bobsleigh, and from there she found herself playing Ice in Gladiators when Sky decided to revive the old Saturday night TV favourite for a new generation of viewers.
But when her sporting endeavours were cut short by injury, Caroline found presenting, or in many instances it found her. The diverse career would continue, presenting the World’s Strongest Man and multiple other sports and would soon be followed by a call to start covering the UFC for BT Sport.
“I was really pushing to be involved in their Moto GP coverage until a totally random phone call offering me a job offering me the opportunity to cover the UFC which took me in a completely different direction to what I had planned.”
Caroline had to hit the ground running, from a base knowledge of knowing only a handful of UFC fighters, she had only 3 months before she was to go on air presenting Beyond the Octagon which at the time was BT Sport’s weekly magazine show.
When the UFC came to Manchester in 2013, Caroline was in London at the BT Sport Studio presenting the show from there and she found her first taste of social media criticism.
“It was the first time we had covered a live UFC as a channel. We normally use the live feed but we had our own coverage and a lot of things went wrong live on air. There were long periods when I was told in my ear to just keep talking which was difficult when the sport was still fairly new to me. I didn’t look on social media for a few days afterwards, most of the feedback was good, but there were the negative ones also. It was tough but people didn’t know my background as an athlete, it was hard at first having to research every single fight and name, but now I’ve worked hard and I feel as though I am very well versed on the sport.”
As Beyond the Octagon gradually faded into history, Caroline found herself travelling more covering the sport, and eventually, she decided to base herself in Los Angeles.
“I always saw myself living over here and when I started coming here on a regular basis to cover the UFC it made sense to move here. I spoke with BT Sport and they said if you are already in the US we can have you covering more events. I was leaving my family and friends and I am not going to lie the first year was tough.”
In an industry that is constantly changing, Caroline has worked hard to land herself numerous roles within MMA, covering the sport for UFC Fight Pass, working for Fox Sports and now presenting on ESPN with the Professional Fighters League (PFL) and a format that is giving incredible opportunities for the fighters taking part.
The winner of each of the 6 weight divisions wins a life-changing $1 million, and series 3 which starts in May will see the likes of Rory MacDonald added to the roster.
“I love it, from my perspective doing a show every two weeks being on television regularly, and following the fighters stories as we go along, the energy is just crazy, you get to know the fighters and their families over the course of the season. They are a great company to work for they treat us so well, they have a great vision without trying to be number two to the UFC, they are trying to do their own thing and it is growing and growing.”
Caroline has covered a whole range of sports in her career and boxing is the latest sport which she has added to her ever-growing CV.
“I’ve always been a big boxing fan, I used to watch it with my dad, and I have just started covering the sport as well. I have just done the Deontay Wilder Tyson Fury press conference for BT Sport which was a lot of fun, very entertaining. It is just about taking the opportunities when they come along. I just want to add more to my MMA work, and grow more and I have got plenty of new things on the horizon as well.”
Weight cutting is one of the most controversial topics in the sport, and Caroline with a masters degree in nutrition is well placed to offer her views on the subject.
“There was a lot of talk after Conor McGregor’s last fight with various photos from his days as a featherweight and a lightweight, and comparing how he looked and performed at the higher weight. We are seeing more and more the benefits of fighters fighting at a higher more natural weight. Kayla Harrison our golden girl, doesn’t cut any weight, the PFL created the division around her.
“It certainly is getting more scientific, it is about bringing your weight down gradually through the training camp and avoiding that crash weight cut, and then refuelling properly as well to enable them to perform to the best of their ability.”
Caroline has interviewed a plethora of fighters through her still relatively short sports broadcasting career, I asked her if she has any moments that really stand out for her.
“There are ones that stand out for different reasons, I remember the Brad Pickett interview when he lost in London, that was a tough one, very emotional and difficult. Then there was the Conor McGregor one when he lost to Nate Diaz. We did a walk and talk interview with him, he was so insightful and composed and he already knew what he would do differently next time.
“There are also the longer sit down interviews, where you get to know more about them, like my interview with Amanda Nunes before she fought Holly Holm. Finding out how she met her fiance, fellow UFC fighter Nina Ansaroff and how they support one another’s careers. You really get to discover the human side of the fighter.”
Despite achieving so much in her career, Caroline still has plenty of ambitions left to achieve.
“I want to work on the Olympic games in some way or another. I didn’t manage to get there in my athletic career and that was always my goal and I promised myself I would get there covering it as a presenter so that’s one of my career goals.
“In 5 years I see myself doing more television, presenting, hosting a wide variety of shows from sport to entertainment, building my fitness business and I have aspirations of creating my own athlete interview series talk show and I have started putting things in place to make that happen.”