MMA On The Mind
Southern spitfi re Jaime Pressly still packs a pretty punch.
Just outside the meeting room at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, CA, Comic Con convention-goers walk by dressed as their favorite comic book character. Although their focus is on scurrying to the convention, a man in a wheelchair portraying Professor X just can’t help but ogle the petite blonde in a blue dress that accentuates every curve. His wife, dressed as Wonder Woman, pulls out an imaginary “Lasso of Truth” and yanks him away.
Emmy-winning actress Jaime Pressly—oblivious to the attention—wraps up her text conversation and takes her seat to begin discussing her involvement in Butterfinger’s Last Spokesperson on Earth campaign, but she’s got MMA on her mind.
“I’m a big fight fan, so I go to as many UFC fi ghts as possible,” says 34-year-old Pressly. “But I have a five-year-old son, so there’s no pre-gaming for me. I don’t get to have a drink until after the fights, but they’re usually entertaining enough, especially UFC 148.”
Pressly clamors about Anderson Silva’s dominance, chuckles about Chael Sonnen’s ill-advised spinning backfist, and appears saddened when discussing the controversial decision that saw Tito Ortiz drop his last fight to Forrest Griffin before riding off into retirement. “It’s sad to see that Tito is gone, but I think it was time,” she says. “Although, I don’t think he lost that fight.”
The Butterfinger reps didn’t anticipate this, as Pressly recharges and goes into fullon MMA mode. She speaks excitedly about Georges St-Pierre’s return to the cage, how B.J. Penn becoming a father has changed him as a fi ghter (“He’s an incredible fighter, but once he got married and had a daughter, it softened him completely, and understandably so.”), and how she’s fallen in love with Roy Nelson and his big right hand (“If he catches you with it, it’s over.”).
It’s evident that the My Name Is Earl actress is no bandwagon fight fan when it comes to MMA, just as it is evident that this conversation is no longer about peanut butter candy bars. But how did this beautiful woman fall in love with what many consider a brutal sport?
“I’ve always loved the fight game,” she says. “My dad’s name is James Liston Pressly, and my brother’s name is James Liston Pressly Jr., after boxing legend Sonny Liston. I grew up watching boxing with my grandfather and then my dad. I’ve always loved it. In fact, my dogs are named Leila and Ali.”
But as the years passed and boxing was marred with questionable decisions, matchups, and sanctioning politics, Pressly needed a new fight fix. So, when her friends Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, along with Dana White, invited her to see their recently purchased organization, it was love at fi rst sight. “After my first fight I was hooked,” she says.
It seems unlikely for a woman to be enamored with the violence, but Pressly says she finds beauty in the Octagon’s art of war. “It’s almost like ballet. I grew up as a dancer and a gymnast, so I can kind of relate. Every single body part is being used, and it requires more skill than just boxing. It’s much more exciting.”
Sickened by Manny Pacquiao’s widely criticized decision loss to Timothy Bradley, Pressly says that it may have been the last straw for her as a fan. “Old boxing fans are mad because MMA is taking over,” she says,
when asked why many elder boxing fans are reluctant to watch MMA. A shrug of the shoulders and wave of her hand dismiss those who champion boxing but continue to criticize MMA. For her, it’s no secret why boxing is losing casual viewers, and any supporter who doesn’t recognize it is clearly delusional. “I’m a fan of both sports, but I’m really pissed off at boxing. Unless Mayweather and Pacquiao fight, which I don’t see happening, it’s going to be hard to get people interested.”
Her publicist intervenes, wearing a wrapthis-conversation-up smile as Pressly chuckles, clearly aware that she’s strayed from the original path of conversation.
“What can I say? I love fighting.”