Caroline Pearce: The Best Interviews Are Always The Happy Interviews
By Ella Fenwick
Owning a “reasonable degree” of experience is not only a modest response from Caroline Pearce herself but very much a large understatement.
Formerly an international heptathlete and competing in the world championships of bobsleighing, Caroline not only has a niche sporting background under her belt but also got herself a degree in Sports Science and Physiology.
That’s not all. After a taste of television in her role of Ice in Sky One’s Gladiators series, Caroline combined her love for sports and TV starting her own series and shortly after landed her first main gig presenting the Strongest Man series.
It wasn’t a huge surprise when BT Sport snatched her talent up for their launch in 2013. For Caroline it was out of the blue when receiving a call to host the live weekly show- UFC: Beyond the Octagon.
Completely new to the fighting world, although daunting Caroline soon started the job with her can do attitude:
“I didn’t know that much about the UFC at all at that point, I mean I had watched a few fights and knew a few fighters, but it was very much a say yes and learn situation. From scratch, I just watched through every fight from years back, all the original tough series, anything I could get my hands on I watched.”
Soon enough she found herself falling head over heels for the sport and like many other fans spent the weekend camping out in front of the TV waiting for the fight night experience to begin:
“The more fighters we had come on the show the more I fell in love with it, and as you know in the UK I was up at two maybe three in the morning on my own in the dark, up watching fights and realising I had become a true fan. That is how it started, not necessarily where I was planning to go but has ended up being the most amazing experience and career so far.”
With a career as full of interviews as Caroline’s, a UFC fighter name-drop was out of the question and I couldn’t be more on board for it. From Georges St-Pierre to Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier, she said:
“They all have that star quality. Even though you get those nerves, if you feel like you get a really good conversation with them it’s all the more rewarding.
“Of course, I can’t not mention Conor McGregor because I have interviewed him at the studio from the very beginning when he had only just entered the UFC. Conor McGregor interviews have always been really fun.
“I think one of my favourites wasn’t actually directly for the UFC, but it was after he had fought Floyd Mayweather in Scotland. It was to a live audience of about 3000 people and we were sat on a stage. It was the first time someone was able to have a proper interview with him in the aftermath of the Mayweather fight. Really understanding how he felt about that and how much money he had earned and even despite the money how much he still had that desire to win and be involved. It was definitely one of the most nerve-wracking because a live audience is so different to on camera, but it was the most exciting interview to do.”
Caroline has had the opportunity to watch many fighters grow in their careers at the UFC, from interviews with them the day before it all counts in the cage to those who have won big on the day, she has seen their highs and lows first hand while on the job:
“The day before weigh-ins occasionally you will get a slightly more… I don’t know if grumpy is the right word but dehydrated, hungry, sometimes short answers. After the fight there is a whole different energy that comes out. The best interviews are always the happy interviews, the ones where you can talk to a fighter who has just won a championship belt or something incredible has happened.
“I love the interviews done outside of fight week we have scheduled when they are at the training camps or not in camp at all where you get a lot more of a relaxed version of that fighter.”
Although Caroline had some amazing experiences in her UFC presenting career and endless support from fellow hosts, producers and fighters alike, at the beginning of her career she did find herself being heavily judged and criticised by fans online:
“I remember the first time I was presenting one of the big Fight Nights on BT Sport in 2014. I was part of a friendly show quite chatty, but as soon as I was involved in one of the live event broadcasts, I was absolutely torn apart on Twitter and online. Just being judged, I mean comments like- ‘who is this blonde talking about fights.
“People don’t know you and don’t know your background, I was quite new to the sport at the time, but I had never been so heavily criticised in my life. I remember thinking to myself- ‘Oh my gosh my career might be over. What if my producers or directors see this?’ They were very supportive, and I learned you just have to get a thicker skin, don’t change yourself to fit the mould or dress down.”
Caroline is aware that these comments still exist in the sport, even mentioning that a few weeks ago after interviewing Lennox Lewis someone took to Twitter commenting: “This is why woman shouldn’t cover fight sports.”
“It is so pathetic that people actually take to social media to say these things. But they say it about fighters, they say it about anyone who puts themselves in the public eye, it comes as part of the parcel.
“I think as a woman you tend to get both sides. You get it on your looks as well as on what you say. As long as you know you have done the best job and you have researched and delivered it well, even if you make mistakes here or there, we all make mistakes.”
Taking it on the chin, Caroline doesn’t let these comments stand in her way and with the positivity in her responses it would be hard not to see her as a true inspiration in the sports presenting career especially when advising others:
“Be yourself. Look good, feel good. You know everything you need to do to strive. There is going to be criticism, but I just think of it as a lot of small-minded people sitting behind their keypads not doing the jobs they want to do. It was tough but even today I still get it, but I am definitely learning to let it go a little bit more.”
So when will we be seeing Caroline’s bubbly and confident personality back on our screens?
She laughed at the prospect of 2021 around the corner, but she has high hopes to travel from Los Angeles to her hometown in the UK to visit friends and family. On a work front however, Caroline is keen on tapping into her own knowledge of sports science to produce her own content, as well as growing her live broadcasting career in the US:
“I want to get myself on the screen a little bit more and hope that sport is back in a bigger way. Hopefully with fans again at some point. My goals are always the same but let’s hope a pandemic doesn’t get in the way this time.”
Photo Credit: PFL