MMA's first female in-ring fight
announcer dishes the dirt on her favorite fights and why she likes to watch "Tank" Abbott get punished.
SINGER. STUNTWOMAN. In-ring fight announcer. Stephanie Stokes, a vociferous and beautiful East Coast girl, wears each of these hats (and several others) with boundless energy. Whether she's
announcing the main event at a Reality Fighting, Mass Destruction or North American Grappling Championship event—or singing the national anthem while wearing a Marilyn Monroe-esque dress in front of
45,000 people at New York's Shea Stadium —Stokes yearns to entertain.
FightSport: How did you become interested in martial arts?
Stephanie Stokes: My father is a black belt in karate and I grew up with [him], so I was exposed to the martial arts. I was always sort
of standoffish about it. I started watching a lot of the fights about four and a half years ago and, like crazy, I was immediately addicted. It was like this bastard sort of hobby, and people I would
meet would say, "Wow, you actually like watching that kind of stuff?" I don't know if they expected [me] to be on a golf course or who knows what. I went [to] an IFC and every UFC that I could for a year back in 1999 and 2000.
FS: Who are some of your favorite fighters?
Stokes: Oh boy, if you're talking [about] style, honestly I like Matt Serra. His fight versus Kelly Dullanty (at UFC 36), with the
transition between the triangle and armbar and rear-naked choke, was amazing to watch. It was beautifully executed. I like watching some of the bigger guys. I like watching Tito (Ortiz) and Ian
Freeman. I like watching "Tank" (Abbott) get punished because I watched him very disrespectfully flash his breasts—he has a big set of breasts—while (UFC President) Dana White was trying to
hold back laughter and Carlos Newton was trying to sit there next to Dana.
FS: Are there any fights that you're grateful to have announced?
Stokes: I don't know if this is being too girly, but some of the female
fights (at Reality Fighting 3) were riveting. I managed to take my eyes off the fight for one split second to watch the crowd—and I'm getting chills just thinking about it. The crowd was completely enamored. They were in
love with what they were watching. Laura D'Auguste, from Tiger Schulmann Karate, went up against Del Greer from Team Bando. I thought that was going to be a really tough fight for Laura. Laura put her
dukes up and all of a sudden her faced changed—it was an amazing fight. There's [something] sort of majestic about hearing your name out loud. It's sort of gladiator- like. I'm wearing a small skirt, but if I have a
set of pipes and can introduce the fighters with this strength of voice and [garner] complete respect, I did my job. I love introducing all of the fighters, all of the grapplers, all of them.
FS: Is there anyone we should keep an eye on in the future?
Stokes: Keep watching for these teen phenoms: Eddie Fyvie (Renzo Gracie's school), Liam
Kerrigan (New Jersey International Martial Arts and Boxing/Cabeca), Amie Turton (NJ IMB/Cabeca), Michael Trasso (Jerry Jones' school), Renee Sabatini (NJ IMB/Cabeca), Jesse
Dallago (Tiger Schulmann Karate) and Anthony D'Angelo (Kioto Jiu-Jitsu).
FS: What have your favorite bouts been—even if you weren't announcing them?
Stokes: In the UFC, I'd have to say Matt Serra vs. Kelly Dullanty at UFC 36, Robbie Lawler vs.
Aaron Riley at UFC 37 for such a heartfelt and explosive match, Bas Rutten vs. Kevin Randleman at UFC 20 for going the distance, and Randy Couture vs. Vitor Belfort at UFC 15—a bout that showed the world that Randy has it all.
FS: What's been a bigger thrill for you: announcing the fighters or singing the national anthem in front of large crowds?
Stokes: It's different. One of them is more personal and the other is more humble. When I performed the national anthem at Shea
Stadium, that was a surreal event. And I like to have a sense of humor about it to keep me grounded. Friends call me "Bubbles" and "Tinkerbell" and these really strange names. I have an unusual
personality. Im Lara Croft and G.I. Joe mixed with four Malibu Barbie Dolls. I fall apart sometimes when I sing, even when I'm singing something I only co-wrote, because it makes me feel very naked. I do
whatever I can to get my message [across] with the music, even just the sound and not so much with the lyrics. It's about the feeling and independent thought I can evoke from people, and I think that's
inspiring — whereas there's a sense of humility I have as an announcer. There is something very wonderful for me to step aside knowing I've introduced somebody and have watched their nerves and pain.
FS: It seems to me that motivation is not a problem for you.
Stokes: I'm very motivated! In fact, if there were four of me I'd be amazingly successful. I'd own the
entire island of St. Barts, there would be an octagon, and you'd be there doing your own television show and magazines. We'd have you do your editorials live on camera and I could interview you afterward.
FS: I like it!
Stokes: I could be that successful if there were four of me. I scatter myself a little bit. I focus on
the music and have had great luck with television. I never really wanted to act. The mixed martial arts became a side bonus, and I'm like a kid in the candy store or like a two-day-old puppy. I'm a
maniac and just love to watch the sport. But there's a huge misunderstanding in this country about what this sport is about and what it takes. We are a society with no attention span. The basics
still apply. No matter how much stimulus is around us, the basics still apply. If you apply yourself to anything, you'll find success in that.
Contact: 201-446-2244 or 201-560-1234
Agent Katie Maloney 212-765-3040