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Smile! In Defense of the Octagon Girl

Smile! In Defense of the Octagon Girl

Yesterday was a tough one for many MMA fans.

Yep, you know what I’m talking about. You’re probably still reeling from the news. As Dana Becker reported here at Caged Insider, UFC Welterweight Champion Chris Weidman suffered a knee injury, forcing his much-anticipated title defense at UFC 173 against Lyoto Machida to be re-scheduled.

But hey — yesterday’s MMA Hour offered a little saving grace. Or, maybe more than a little.

If you listened, you know what I mean. Sure, it was great to hear Melvin Guillard tell host Ariel Helwani that he is doing well in his recovery from injury, and it was fun to hear that Kenny Florian is taking up improvisational theatre classes. But no, I mean the big news.

Yes fans, Arianny Celeste, that favorite Octagon gal of almost eight years, announced on yesterday’s MMA Hour that she called off her engagement, and yes, I can hear you rejoicing from here.

Okay, I’m kidding.

Mostly. (Seriously? Best wishes to Arianny. I hear she’s a nice gal.)

Hey, she gives us a smile.

What else can be said about the Octagon Girls?

UFC Octagon Girl Arianny

UFC Octagon Girl Arianny

They add a little glamor to the shows, but as I understand it, the role has its roots in boxing, where a sign would be carried around the ring before each round, to better keep track of rounds in lengthy bouts. The advent of electronic scoreboards ended that necessity, but the practice continues on, adding to the pageantry of the matches. Of course, the UFC only features bouts of three and five rounds, and it’s unlikely that too many of us fans need a lot of help counting to three or five, but, well, there they are anyway.

And, they give you a smile. No matter how smart fans make themselves out to be, they probably enjoy them, and even have a favorite or two.

Mine was Logan Stanton. Maybe you remember her from her brief run in the UFC in 2008 to 2009? She had a very pretty, natural kind of look, and seemingly no ability to hide how ridiculous she found the job from time to time. It would just be written all over her smiling face now and again, as she held up her sign and walked across the cage: “Uh, what am I doing here?” It’s probably also predictable that she didn’t last very long.

She was a charmer though. Here’s a video from her days with the UFC courtesy, of ESPN Radio:

Some say the ring gals look silly in an era where women are doing the fighting as well. I went to a local MMA show some years back which had a “ring guy” hold up the signs between rounds during two bouts featuring female fighters. Some fans got a kick out of it, my wife included, but somehow it hasn’t caught on.

We all have our preferences, huh? In 2012, I watched some fights in Japan for KRUSH, a kickboxing promotion, and the ring gals wore little kimonos instead of the skimpy halter tops. They were still sexy, but not so overt, and I thought it was great. Sadly, that probably wouldn’t fly in the West though.

Wherever and whoever is doing the job, they give us a smile, and when the fight game gets disappointing — that’s not always a small thing. Here’s to them.

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