Getting into the cage is a terrifying experience. I’ll never forget my first time. Standing there, trying to stop myself from hyperventilating, thinking “what the hell have I got myself into?” Those feelings went away after two or three times in there, so imagine my horror as those feelings of uncertainty made an unwelcome return when I entered the cage at CSFC 15. I wasn’t wearing my usual tiny shorts, I didn’t get to walkout to a crushing metal song and nobody announced my entrance.
No, that was my job. I was the ring announcer.
This all began as a joke. I work a regular 9-5 like most people, mine comprises driving a van and fixing water coolers. Most of my day is spent alone, I spend a lot of time in that van and that’s where I concocted my plan. While driving from point A to point B, I started practicing announcing people. Oh, to be a fly on the wall, a man introducing pretend fights while driving a Mercedes Vito up and down the M62. I got a bit self conscious and turned the microphone on my dash cam off just in case I had to present it to my boss. Regardless, I didn’t think I was too bad. In fact, I managed to convince myself that I could do it. Making an arse of myself in front of a crowd doesn’t bother me and I’m already comfortable in a cage – why not give it a shot?
One day a post went into the AVT Facebook group offering up fights in Norway, I was lucky to get matched and went off with three team mates and our head coach, UFC veteran, cheesecake aficionado and co-promoter of CSFC, Mr Danny Mitchell. While we travel down the M1 I talk about how I announce to myself on motorways. A day and bit later after a lot of drinking and some boxing, we’re up a mountain in Bergen. Danny asks to hear my announcing voice. People hike past us, giving me weird looks while I introduce everyone around us, at the time I couldn’t tell if he thought I was a dick or if he was impressed. A couple of months later and he has an opening for a ring announcer and I gladly give it a go.
CSFC is a big show, really big for your first time on the microphone. Some weighty names within UK MMA have been on it, from Dan Hardy to Scott Askham, so to make my non-combative cage debut there was terrifying. Thing is though, I relish working under pressure, having the odds against me, diving in and trying to wing things that I definitely shouldn’t be winging. I’ll be reyt, I’ve practiced in my van a ton, all I need to do is transfer it to the cage. Piece of piss.
So we arrive at the venue. I have note cards in my pocket and the suit I bought from Matalan for my mates wedding last summer on a coat hanger. I get in there and see my team mates warming up in the cage and I can’t help but want to get in there and have a roll about. That’s not why I’m here. I have to sit and watch idly, make notes on the fighters and quell the bundle of nerves nestling in the pit of my stomach. The time comes to soundcheck, not everything goes well. My voice cracks and my palms become wetter than an otters pocket. I’m terrified that the sweat patches are going to bleed through my finest polyester number before the show even starts.
Its customary for the MC to introduce the show, when the time came I settled myself, reeled off the names of the judges and the sponsors and once the formalities were out of the way I was comfortable.
“DONCASTER DOME, MAKE SOME NOISE!”
The crowd makes some noise.
“YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO BETTER THAN THAT. MAKE SOME NOISE!”
The crowd makes more noise.
“Introducing your first fight of the night…”
And it was all downhill from there. I wasn’t perfect, but was anyone’s first time perfect? I probably made some mistakes, I’m pretty sure I forgot to name the “gallant runner up” at the end of a few fights, I think I forgot to mention a sponsor at one point too (which I assume is a big black mark on me from the promoters POV). I watched team mates win and lose, I got blood splatterered on my suit and had a hell of a lot of fun.
Back in my van the Monday after, I was still on an adrenaline high. I thought about everything I did in the cage that night and pondered on ways I could do it better. I’ve always wanted to pack in the 9-5 but a fighters wage wouldn’t pay my bills. Maybe, just maybe, I could do it with extra MC work.
I’d just like to mention here that COLEMAN’S PIZZERIA AND STEAKHOUSE IN DONCASTER HAS THE BIGGEST AND BADDEST STEAK IN YORKSHIRE.
If you hadn’t guessed, I’m available for bookings.