UFC reporter Laura Sanko and her family had a less than typical Easter Sunday.
While most parents woke up early to watch their children hunt for whatever treats the Easter Bunny left behind the house, Sanko and her husband realized that they had been robbed.
“If people follow me on Instagram, they probably know I live on a farm — technically a ranch because we only have cattle,” Sanko told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck. “We have 150 acres here, but what’s unique about it is I don’t actually live in the country. Out one window, I can see the golf course that’s connected to the country club, there’s a neighborhood right next to us, and another neighborhood on the other side.
“But we have this big chunk of farm land, so we have farm equipment. We have 35 head of cattle and we do that whole thing, so it is a working farm in that respect. We woke up Easter morning and a big piece of farm equipment had been stolen.
“It was our Polaris Ranger, and a bunch of tools had been stolen,” Sanko continued. “It was like $20,000 worth of stuff.”
Sanko, who has been an integral part of the UFC’s social media team — along with the popular Dana White’s Contender Series broadcasts — was certainly frustrated to arise to such an unfortunate incident.
Of course, having anything stolen from your property is terrible. The damage caused during the robbery was equally, if not more so, annoying than having the farm equipment taken.
“The worst part was that they — and whoever did it is not ultra intelligent — they went through the fence,” Sanko explained. “As any farmer would tell you, I would almost rather you wake me up and I’ll open the gate for you then run over my fence because the entire property is one continuous electric, thick wire fence. So when you break part of it, putting it back together is an absolute mother f’er to be polite about it.
“It was not a good way to wake up on Easter.”
Local police were called and reports were taken, according to Sanko. On the bright side of things, nobody was harmed during the crime.
Luckily, in an age where technology has grown leaps and bounds, more information about the suspects has been made available.
“It’s weird because we didn’t have — we will now — security cameras where our equipment is stored,” Sanko said. “But our neighbors that just built across the street have excellent footage where we can see, specifically, the vehicle, the people, we know roughly what they look like, we can watch them go in and break into a bunch of stuff.
“I’m obviously thankful that no one was hurt and all that, but it’s such a weird feeling knowing that other people were in your things and off enjoying them, or profiting from them. It’s not the worst thing that could’ve happened so, all in all, not a huge deal. But it’s certainly not fun either.”
Sanko has worn multiple hats throughout her combat sports career, including one of being a professional fighter herself. Nicknamed “Fancy”, Sanko posted a 4-1 amateur record, and picked up a second-round submission win over Cassie Robb in her only professional fight at Invicta FC 4 in January 2013.
Following the win, the atomweight prospect moved on from her fighting career as she became a mother, along with being a devoted wife. Sanko has continued to work in the fight game as an interviewer and broadcaster for Invicta, as well as the UFC.
With all of the work that all of those professions bring to the table, being a quasi part-time detective was not one that Sanko and her husband thought they would have to add on.
“They are (still on the loose)” Sanko stated. “My husband was so annoyed about it and he’s got too much time on his hands, as does a lot of people, so we canvased the neighborhood that leads to the direction we know that they left. So we have a lot of people’s Ring camera footage of them tearing down the street.
“We know what vehicle they arrived in. We know what time (they came), and we know they were canvassing our neighborhood, and the other neighborhoods around us for other stuff. Unfortunately, a lot of Ring cameras don’t have high enough resolution where you could get a license plate, or the right angle to get a license plate. So we know what kind of car it was, but we don’t know exactly who they are. They have not been apprehended.”
To have a situation that unfortunate happen, especially in the midst of a global pandemic, would be a nightmare for most people. With the world in a state of uncertainty, Sanko was able to find a silver lining in the situation.
“The only thing that made us feel slightly better is that this very electrified fence that we have, the bottom wire had clearly been cut,” Sanko said. “It was a clean cut, but the bottom wire is not hot. The middle wire, you could tell, had been cut part way through and that someone had stopped cutting it clearly because they got the sh*t shocked out of them. I can assure you, you don’t want to stick a tool on the middle or top wire.
“The top wire had been driven through. They got to the bottom wire and thought (it was) no big deal, went to the second one and got shocked pretty bad.”
After appearing on episode two of MMA Fighting’s What the Heck, Sanko was going to be part of the UFC 249 broadcast team on April 18 at Tachi Palace. Just days after the UFC released the fight card, the event was postponed and Sanko, who was very excited to get back to work, was left in an uneasy state — as she posted on her Instagram page.
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This weekend was not great. Thinking about how I should have been working UFC 249...waking up Easter Morning to realize we’d had an expensive piece of equipment and tools stolen...not being able to share Easter with family...struggling with the frustrations of homeschooling...financial questions ... and ultimately feeling like I have zero control over my life right now...for some reason it all hit me at once. Just sharing because I know it’s easy to portray an imagine of “everything is happy” on IG and, while I definitely recognize I have a lot to be thankful for, I don’t always “feel” it. I also sometimes get down about social media and all that comes with it. Last night though, after I posted something in my story that was meant to uplift and show that we are all in this together, I received so many messages of love and support from people who didn’t even know I needed it. It was really amazing and very much reframed how I see this platform. We ARE in this together and random acts of kindness are something we all need. Send someone a message of kindness today ❤️...at lets get back to watching some fist fighting ASAP!! (photo art: @gaydonator )
At some point throughout this trying time in the world, a lot of us had felt the same way Sanko has. It’s only natural.
A day or so later, she received a message from UFC president Dana White that put everything in perspective as she prepared to go back to doing what she truly loves at the new iteration of UFC 249.
“I was feeling like my life was not in my own hands, which is not something that I particularly loved,” Sanko explained. “Not long after that, I think it was the next day, Dana White kindly messaged me and he was like, ‘Hey, keep your head in the game. As soon as that other fight was called off, within a day I was already talking to Disney and ESPN, getting this figured out, and May 9 is gonna happen. Don’t you worry, we’re gonna make this work.’
“Pretty soon after I was really disappointed, I felt a ray of hope and as I started more and more news come out about it, I felt good about it.”