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“Working From Home” SportsCenter’s Ashley Brewer Returns To Phoenix To Cover UFC 274

“Since I got the call, I’ve been studying like it was my SAT,” says the anchor, MMA fan

SportsCenter’s Ashley Brewer (L) poses with MMA legend Cristiane (Cyborg) Justino (top R) and interviews UFC President Dana White. ( L: Melissa Rawlins/ESPN Images; R: Ashley Brewer/ESPN)

Ashley Brewer’s mixed martial arts fandom was inspired by a fellow churchgoer who answered to the nickname “The Smashing Machine.”

Mark Kerr, who also was nicknamed “The Titan,” was an MMA star in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“I just remember him as this big, sweet, and gentle guy,” Brewer said of Kerr. “He introduced us to the MMA world, and I’ve been fascinated and in love with UFC ever since.”

This weekend SportCenter Los Angeles co-anchor Brewer, who joined ESPN in 2020, enjoys a homecoming while reporting from Phoenix’s Footprint Center, site of UFC 274: Oliveira vs. Gaethje (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+ PPV).

The 2009 Arizona 4A state champion in the 100y backstroke and former sports anchor in Tucson as well as Los Angeles, Brewer talks about her preparation for this weekend.

What does it mean to you to cover UFC 274: Oliveira vs. Gaethje in your hometown?
I’m incredibly excited and grateful for every step of my career. I thought the biggest thing for me would be to work as a local anchor in Phoenix, like my mom [Deborah Pyburn Brewer] did for 10 years. ESPN has been so gracious with all the opportunities I’ve been given and allowed me to work on things I’m passionate about.

As this is your first ESPN on-air MMA assignment, how are you prepping?
I’ve been studying like it was my SAT. I’m in full prep mode. I want to show how passionate I am about the sport to its dedicated fans. Every day, I’ve been listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos, reading articles, and I’ve made a long list of pages of notes on each fighter on the card. I want to prove myself and hope that this will be the first of many UFC opportunities at ESPN.

UFC 274: Oliveira vs. Gaethje is part of a blockbuster championship doubleheader at Phoenix’s Footprint Center on Saturday. ESPN+ will exclusively stream the PPV beginning at 10 p.m. ET.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Brewer, who swam competitively for USC, indulged her competitive spirit years after her prep volleyball days ended. She practiced with Tucson’s Salpointe Catholic High School team in this segment for Tuscon’s KGUN-9 in October 2015.

Brewer was a 12-time prep All-American and the 2009 Arizona 4A state champion in the 100y backstroke (Photos courtesy Ashley Brewer/ESPN)
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