Amanda Sanchez of Unknown MMA on Being a Girl Boss in Sports Media
When I first encountered @mandanicol3 on Twitter, I instantly fell in love with her brassy candor and sharp wit.
She was avidly searching for other women who were MMA fans to connect with, amidst a sea of trolls and 40 year-old soccer dad’s who were living vicariously through those who had the courage to step into the cage. I instantly connected with her, since I felt the same way about the state of MMA fandom and was eager to connect with other women with the same passion.
Fast forward a few months and she’s on fire: not only as a photographer and 4.0 grad student, but as the entrepreneur behind unknownmma.com and #FEMMMA. She’s turned her passion for fighting into an online platform that includes a podcast, fighter portraits, and a slew of fascinating articles that give you an insider look into the life of a fighter.
Learn more about Amanda’s determination and creative vision, in this interview with the multi-talented founder. Listen to an expanded conversation based off of her answers in the latest episode of our podcast, found here.
FFF: Tell us about Unknown MMA.
AMANDA SANCHEZ: Unknown MMA is a quasi-news site, we focus on topics surrounding MMA with both fight break downs and entertaining articles! Above all else, the goal of the site is to inform while entertaining. I’ve got some great staff that are putting together fun articles that people want to read. I’m trying to stray away from the normal sports news website. We tackle topical, current issues without the basic news format.
FFF: Why did you create the website?
AS: The initial reason I created Unknown MMA was to find a clan of female MMA fans. I was looking for people who had the passion of MMA within twitter and found it severely lacking female voices. I initially started the hashtag #FemMMA when the idea first came to me. From that, we ventured out to what Unknown MMA is now. Unknown MMA to me is a site that people can learn new things about fighters and the MMA world that other news sites may not cover.
FFF: As a multi-passionate entrepreneur, how have you combined your other businesses with Unknown MMA?
AS: I’ve actually been blessed to have created my own acting and photography studio. With this, I’ve learned a ton about production and filming as well as doing portraits. I believe because I’m able to use a photographer’s sense of art when taking photos on the fly or in a gym setting, I’m providing a different perspective than those who have always been in the sports or journalism world. All of the work I put into my first business has put me in the position to create most of the design aspects of my website myself.
FFF: You've now done portraits for many UFC fighters, including Joanna, Derrick Lewis, and Cowboy Cerrone. What was it like getting to not only meet these fighters, but capture them on camera?
AS: Well, I met Joanna in April after her Brooklyn fight against Rose. I honestly just got super lucky to run into her and she was sweet enough to stop for a photo. At that point, I knew I wanted to do something with MMA, I just wasn’t sure what. From then, I set the goal for me to have my website up and running by September since I was going to the Dallas card. I always have my camera with me but I was just taking photos with my phone when we’d run into fighters. It wasn’t until I saw Cowboy Cerrone a few times that a light bulb went off. I asked him if he would mind me taking a portrait of him and he said I could! Then with each fighter, I asked and they all said yes, so I got a quick jumping off point from there. The confidence and knowledge I have acquired over the years as a photographer helped me to quickly adjust to be able to take pretty decent photos that day before the fight!
FFF: What are your long-term goals for the site?
AS: Long term, I want to have consistent content and be working with multiple fighters’ camps to capture photos for them. I like the idea of being able to shed light on aspects of MMA that may not get as much recognition, such as the interview piece I did with artist Danilo de Almeida (INSERT: https://unknownmma.com/artbydanilo/). So that’s something I definitely want to continue doing.
FFF: What are your goals for 2019?
AS: I have so many! I’m not sure if a lot of people know but I’m also in graduate school on top of running these two businesses so my number one thing is to hurry up and get my degree, I’m in my final semester so I’ll be done soon! I’m working to set different things up for Unknown MMA while I’m in school but I’m looking forward to being free to travel for shoots, interviews and fights later in the year.
FFF: For those who don't know, you do a lot. You're a grad student, as well as a photographer, entrepreneur, and now spearheading Unknown MMA. How do you structure your schedule to allow you to accomplish so much, across multiple disciplines?
AS: I don’t even know! My schedule is always so busy. I feel like I’m just catching my breath from last year. I teach acting classes, so I schedule my classes and private lessons all on one day and I usually work on my Unknown MMA stuff before school or whenever I have time. This semester is gonna be cool because I’m doing an independent study research project on MMA, so the work I do for that project will also be supporting Unknown MMA at the same time!
FFF: What does it mean to you to fight like a girl (I ask this to everyone!)?
AS: To fight like a girl to me means to face adversity head on. Tackle whatever you’re doing with your whole heart and soul and never back down. To fight like a girl means to be strong in your decisions and handle defeat with your head held high, knowing that every set back is just a set up for something greater. Believe in your abilities and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do anything because we can do everything if we trust ourselves.
FFF: Where can people get in touch with you?