In an Oct. 28 report from Fightland, Aurora Ford opened up about witnessing Nikki “Knuckles” Knudsen’s bruising loss to Holly Holm earlier this month at Legacy FC 24 in Dallas, Texas.
Ford, a freelance writer from Alaska, admits in the opening line of the piece that Knudsen is her friend and not just an interview subject, so she was essentially writing from a “fan’s perspective” and not from the unbiased viewpoint of a traditional press member.
Ford makes no apologies for writing from a fan’s perspective, as she identifies as an MMA supporter than a reporter on a media assignment. “I write about fighting because I f*cking love fights,” Ford states in a piece from Fightland that she penned earlier this year. “I am first, second, third, foremost and always a fan, and sitting silently trying to appear uninvolved or unbiased is so past impossible I’m not even going to try. Fight fans read fight writing. They’re going to identify with me before any of you.”
The Anchorage native hit the proverbial nail on the head with that sentiment. There’s an unwritten rule in the media world that says press people shouldn’t act like “fans” by taking pictures pictures of themselves with the athletes or cheering during fights, but Ford has no interest in following it.
And by taking the road less traveled by blurring the line between fan and reporter, Ford has suddenly become the best feature writer in WMMA.
Most fight fans would rather read writing from fellow fight fans, rather than from someone who happened to be assigned to cover an event.
99% of the writers who covered the Legacy FC 24 focused solely on Holm’s dominant performance, not on Knudsen’s loss. It’s difficult to fault their approach since Holm is one of the fastest-rising stars in WMMA, and her victory over Knudsen was just the latest in a string of convincing victories notched this year by the 18-time boxing champ.
It was Ford, however, who dug deeper than the surface story to find a compelling “nugget” to share to fight fans. The story of Knudsen’s loss was insignificant in comparison to Ford’s art of telling it, and being handed a lopsided defeat in an MMA fight wouldn’t have been as compelling if told by a less effective interpreter.
“I watched the first minute and a half of the fight looking into the cage at my friend as her game plan backfired and Holly moved her straight up against the cage in the clinch and then in short order landed three hard front kicks to Nikki’s body,” Ford wrote. “Then I turned away. I watched the rest of the fight on the screen because that somehow made it seem less real. It did not stop me from covering my mouth and heart with my hands and letting out an occasional quiet sob that the security guards next to me politely pretended not to hear. The shot in hell I thought Nikki had evaporated before my eyes.
“It wasn’t until later that I realized how many chances Holly had early on to finish the fight, but for some reason she kept backing off and letting Nikki breathe. There could be any reason for that. Maybe because she wanted to put on a longer show for the fans. Or maybe it’s hard for a sweet person to keep inflicting damage on someone who poses no threat.
“To Nikki’s credit, she never stopped trying, never broke, never gave up. She took combination after combination, hard punches, head kicks, all of which had knockout power, and she just shook her head and kept coming. I’ve heard it said about her before: She isn’t brimming with raw talent, but you can’t teach heart, and Nikki has heart by the truckload.
“It was a brutal fight. Finally about halfway through the 2nd round, Holly landed a hard side kick to Nikki’s ribs. Nikki cried out in pain and stumbled backwards. That was the single most awful MMA-related moment I’ve ever experienced in my life. I felt sick. I felt … angry. Whose fucking idea was it to let this fight happen?! I thought. Nikki stumbled sideways into the cage, and Holly was on her. The fight was called quickly, thank god, because any more of that would have seen me passed out in the aisle.”
Ford was clearly cheering for Knudsen, but her emotion and passion as a fan was so compelling that it didn’t matter that her story wasn’t objective.
Fight fans can check her out on Twitter at @AuroraJaneFord, and scope out her Fightland articles at this link.