Recent signee, Felice “Lil Bulldog” Herrig brings her outgoing and popular personality to the home of Women’s MMA; Invicta FC. No debut date has been set, but Herrig will look to make some noise in the Straweight division.
Considered by most to be an elite level striker, Herrig took some time to tell us how her career started, why she signed with Invicta, and why she loves her fans so much!
Corey Smith: You initially began your journey in martial arts via Muay Thai. How did that come about? What predicated the switch over to MMA?
Felice Herrig: I started with American style kickboxing. I went to a gym with my brother and took a class and within a week I was booked for my first ammy fight. I was hooked and I kept training and then the opportunity came to be on this reality show “Fight Girls.”
FH: It wasn’t until then that I actually did Muay Thai. After winning the show I did more Muay Thai fights, and then got a call from Chuck Norris’s WCL and I competed there for a bit. But again I was the smallest girl in the promotion so I was not only fighting much bigger girls but some serious bad asses too.
FH: I could see MMA was where everything was going so I knew I had to go that direction. Problem was I had already established myself as a high level pro in Muay Thai and kickboxing so I didn’t have the luxury of having an amateur career in MMA to learn the ropes.
FH: I was thrown in against pro MMA girls with grappling and BJJ backgrounds and basically learned through trail by fire. I had zero BJJ or wrestling when I started MMA… zero.
CS: Are you still currently training out of Team Curran in Illinois? What are your thoughts on mentor Jeff Curran’s recent retirement?
FH: Yes I have been with Team Curran for over 3 years now and it is my home. I bounced around from gym to gym for the longest time and am so glad that I landed here. Jeff is truly one of the best coaches in the game and I don’t think he gets that recognition yet.
FH: I am torn about his retirement. On one hand I feel like his last fight showed he is still a big threat in the division and he can still compete with the best in the sport. I mean it was a good fight and Pedro was no joke… the split decision was very close. I also know that Jeff is a fighter through and through so his competitive edge is always going to be calling him.
FH: He has done so much for this sport that I know it’s hard to hang it up. On the other hand I know that 16 years of competing has taken a toll on his body and his business and family requires his attention a lot. On a selfish note I am excited to have my coach back and with me 100%.
CS: After you were released by Bellator as part of their decision to no longer promote female bouts, what prompted you to sign with Invicta FC?
FH: Honestly my management and I requested our release before that news was made so this was not a case of me being let go and looking for a new home. I went to my first Invicta show to support my friend Carla Esparza. I went in there thinking I wouldn’t really want to fight on an all girls show because I liked being the “feature women’s fight” on an all male card. I admit I shot from the hip and actually made this statement to some media outlets.
FH: After feeling the energy and vibe at my first Invicta show I knew it was something very special. Then I had the chance to meet Shannon Knapp and spend some time with her at the show and honestly I knew in my gut then that I would like to fight for her.
FH: I had this fear that she may judge me like so many people do and she really didn’t at all. As a matter of fact I felt like we may have a lot of similarities and she just really understood me. There was an incident in the hotel bar (which I won’t mention names) when “someone” started messing with me. Shannon came out of nowhere and jumped to my defense and I wasn’t even an Invicta fighter at the time. It was that moment that I knew if Shannon had my back like that then she must really have the backs of her fighters.
FH: After that I went to Invicta 6 just to support WMMA and Invicta and again felt that energy and also that these girls are the best of the best and this is truly where I needed to be.
CS: What are you most looking forward to now that you are a part of the Invicta family?
FH: Staying active!
CS: What do you think a company like Invicta FC that solely promotes female athletes does for the sport of Women’s MMA?
FH: I think it’s absolutely amazing. Like I said earlier I shot from the hip early on and said I wouldn’t want to fight in an all women’s show, but I really had no idea until I came to one how it was, and I admit whole heartedly that I was wrong. Invicta is WMMA!
CS: You have stated that you would never fight friend and current Invicta FC Straweight Champion Carla Esparza again. Does that mean you are considering a move up or down in weight class? What are your goals within the organization?
FH: I don’t know what would happen if I got to the point where I was a contender, but I do know I have a ways to go before that could happen and there is just no way I could stand across the cage from my girl again.
FH: I have no problem fighting anyone in the division even ones I’m friends with, but Carla is beyond that… She is beyond a teammate. Carla is one girl that when everyone was talking bad about me (including some of her friends), she didn’t. She could have jumped on the wagon especially because we fought but she didn’t… she was so genuine and actually publicly stuck up for me to many of the standard haters that constantly criticize me. We have become so close that there is just no way I could look at her and get motivated to fight her. People like Carla don’t come into your life very often and I love her way too much to risk our friendship.
CS: You participated in two MMA themed reality shows in the past, Fight Girls and Ultimate Women Challenge. What were your experiences like on those shows? Would you participate in the rumored Invicta FC reality show if asked?
FH: I would definitely take part in an Invicta reality show. I have faith in Shannon and the Invicta brand that the show would be legit so no question… if Invicta wanted me then I would be in for sure.
FH: I didn’t really participate in Ultimate Women Challenge. They courted me to be on the show but I had a bad feeling in my gut about it and I didn’t do it. I had the experience from being on Fight Girls to know what a real production should be like and this did not come close.
FH: My experience on Fight Girls was awesome! I met a lot of great people and I really loved that experience. As a matter of fact I just recently reconnect with Gina Carano, who was my coach/mentor on the show and we have been chatting a lot. It’s really great to be back in touch with her, I missed her… she always called me “little monster” and when I saw her at RFA for my coaches last fight we picked right up where we left of. Hi Gina!!!
CS: You maintain a strong social media presence and connection with your fans. How important is that to you personally and to your career?
FH: Social media is so important for me. I think when you engage your fans and entertain them through that media you can really connect. I do my best to engage with everyone but obviously it can get hard to keep up with. A few years ago fans would never have the outlet to connect with athletes, singers, actors, etc… but now this gives them a chance to connect one-to-one and get a true snapshot of our everyday lives. Fans are what got me here so it’s very important for me to stay connected.
CS: Which carries with it more stress, fighting yourself or cornering a teammate?
FH: Gosh that’s a tough question! Both are very stressful but in different ways. I think I put so much into my fights and so much pressure on myself that I do get overwhelmed there a lot. Designing my outfits, diet, keeping up with my fans and promoting my sponsors. I would say more “stress” when I fight and more “emotion” when a friend fights.
CS: Outside of the gym, what types of activities do you enjoy simply for fun?
FH: You know I just like to have fun and be a happy person. I know I can tend to be a bit overboard on things but that’s just me enjoying life. It doesn’t always rub people the right way but I am never out to hurt anyone. I’m a bit of a walking contradiction… I like to travel and visit friends but I like my routine of training and staying in my groove.
FH: I like to write in my journal, read, and design clothes (mainly my fight outfits). I have a creative side to me so I’m always tinkering with things. I just recently discovered bedazzling so everyone and everything watch out!!!
CS: Lastly, it takes a team to succeed alone in the cage. Who would you like to thank?
FH: Yes it does take a team to succeed. Something a lot of fighters tend to forget. They think they are the one in the cage and they are the one getting hit and they so quickly can forget who helped get them there to give them that opportunity.
FH: I would like to thank my team at Team Curran especially Joey Diehl for always being my drill partner and pushing me. My coach Jeff Curran for coaching me and for everything he does behind the scenes that most of his fighters don’t even know about. My Thai coach Ian Alexander for always making time for me. Shannon States who has been my boxing coach since day one and always been there for me even when I may not have been for him.
FH: And my manager Brian Butler from SuckerPunch Entertainment. My career has never been the same since we teamed up and I am very grateful for him.
FH: I also have to thank my sponsors who have given me everything I need to be 100% dedicated to this sport. Because of them I am living my dream and have been able to become a full time fighter. Alienware (and you Cody Norris for championing MMA for me and all of MMA to Dell), Allmax Nutrition, Americana MMA, Dom Fight Gear, SoldierFit, Battleware, BlueGrace Logistics and Fighterwarehouse.