Felice “Lil’ Bulldog” Herrig is a strawweight fighter who trains with Team Curran and is currently 7-4. She also has an extensive background in kickboxing, winning several championships before making the transition to MMA.
Herrig, who has spent the last two years fighting for XFC, is set to face Michele Gutierrez in a rematch at Bellator 84 on Dec. 14. She previously defeated Gutierrez in 2009 by first-round submission. The fight gave Herrig her first victory in her MMA career.
The Lil’ Bulldog took some time from her training to talk about her rematch with Gutierrez, her training regiment and the people who have influenced her as a fighter.
Felice, your last three fights were in XFC. How did you end up getting the call from Bellator to fight Gutierrez?
First I want to say I loved my time with XFC. John Prisco and his company really made me feel like family and I will never forget them.
I got word about Bellator from my manager, who told me they were interested in having me with them as they transition to Spike. At the time Michele was not even on the table and did not come up until after we had agreed to make the move.
When we heard Michele was going to sign we still didn’t think the fight was an option because we thought there is no way she can make 115 pounds.
When that was confirmed, I think Bellator thought this might be a good first fight because of the rivalry and that we were the first two female fighters to be in a MMA video game.
For this training camp you are also training with Carla Esparza, who you fought in 2011. How did How did you and Esparza become training partners? What have you learned from training with her?
Carla and I became friends after we fought because my manager and I saw how she was so gracious with her win, and just a genuine nice person. My manager reached out to her and set us up to meet and train while I was out doing trips for sponsors and we hit it off like we had been friends for years.
I love Carla she is great! Carla and I can learn off each other because she is the best wrestler in the division and I think I’m one of the better strikers so we play to each other’s weak sides.
I think I can learn so much just from getting a feel for not just another woman’s body, but a top ranked woman and I think I can give her a push on the stand up side.
We are training hard together now and are calling our camp, Camp Yin Yang (top striker/top wrestler). We are having a lot of fun with it and I think the fans are enjoying the interaction too. Don’t be fooled though we are putting in HARD WORK!
The first match against Gutierrez in 2009 was the first win in your career. How have you changed as a fighter since then?
Since my first fight with Michele I have found a home gym here at Team Curran MMA and my game has really evolved. I had zero wrestling and very little BJJ when I first fought Michele. Even though I submitted her I feel so much more competent on the ground now.
I have evolved so much since that fight. My head coach Jeff Curran has added some new coaches to the team that I will have access to. I feel that I will have the best camp ever.
We have Dave Silva running the wrestling and he is just sick. Ian Alexander has recently joined the team as the Muay Thai coach and I couldn’t be more excited to get back to some solid Muay Thai.
Jeff is obviously a tremendous BJJ practitioner and an awesome MMA coach who is responsible for the success of several fighters such as Bart Palaszewski, Pat Curran, Mike Corey and several others that you will be hearing from soon!
What moment in your life did you realize that you wanted to professionally compete in combat sports?
I knew I wanted to compete as a pro the second I put gloves on at my first kickboxing gym. I tried it out and within a week was signing up for my first ammy fight. I knew with the growth of MMA I had to transition over because that is where everything seemed to be heading.
The drawback for me was that I had already become an accomplished pro in kickboxing and Muay Thai so when I jumped straight into the pro circuit for MMA, obviously all the grapplers wanted a crack at me. I embraced that and now feel grappling is one of my strong points.
You said you watched your dad compete in martial arts when you were growing up. What he does he think of you fighting? What does the rest of your family think?
My dad has always been into martial arts as long as I can remember. He is very proud of me for carving my own path and the rest of my family is proud as well.
Who are some of the people have been some of the major influences during your career?
There are definitely a few standouts in my career. It’s so hard to find people in this sport who actually have your back and have no ulterior motives other than joy in seeing you succeed.
My original boxing coach Shannon States was the one guy who was there from me all the way from the beginning of my amateur career, before I was on the reality show “Fight Girls” and before I got into MMA, before I had any kind of recognition.
He never expected anything from me other than for me to show up and be ready to train hard and he tells me all the time how proud he is of me. [Hearing that from] someone who has been there for me from the beginning, and has been truly and genuinely proud of me is priceless.
There is also my manager Brian Butler from Suckerpunch Entertainment, the most ethical business man I have ever met in this sport. He is the only man I have ever trusted to manage my career. Others have tried, but I never felt like we had the same vision. Brian and I see eye to eye.
My career has completely turned around since I started working with him two years ago. He is a marketing genius and I’ve always understood that aspect of the fighting.
He has increased my profile, while at the same time making me financially stable and able to be a full time fighter. He and I collaborate on ideas all the time, We just make a great team. I can honestly say I never want another manager.
Of course there is my coach “Big Frog” Jeff Curran. It wasn’t until I started training at his gym that I really felt like I started evolving as a MMA fighter. His coaching I get, it makes sense to me. Between working with him and the team of fighters we have at Team Curran, I just feel like I’m getting better and better at a rapid pace.
You were also the first female fighter to star in a video game? What was that experience like for you? What other projects are you pursuing outside of fighting?
Being one of the first female fighters in a video game was a really cool experience and promoting Supremacy MMA was such a great experience, I met so many cool people in the gaming world and traveled the world promoting the game.
Outside of fighting I have always had a dream to pursue acting… I would love to play a super hero or an action role at some point. I could do my own stunts and I’m kind of durable.
If you could fight a character from any fighting game, who they be and why?
Well since I am sponsored by Alienware, the baddest PC gaming brand in the world, and my last fight outfit was Chun Li from “Street Fighter”, I would have to say Chun Li or Cammy.
Everyone seems to say if that I was a video game character I would be Cammy, so I think if I fought her in real life, it would be a draw.
Win, lose or draw, what are your plans after the fight with Gutierrez? Will you continue to fight with XFC or are there other promotions you would like to tackle?
I’m not looking past Michele at this point but I am signed to Bellator, so my plan is to continue to fight there.
They also have told my management that they wouldn’t be opposed to me fighting in Invicta at some point if the right opportunity arose. For now all of my attention is on Dec 14th.
What else would you like readers to know about you?
I don’t know really? I am pretty active on social media so my fans kind of know I am goofball and like to have fun.
I think sometimes my personality can be misread and cause people to think I am cocky and not like me, but the people that know me or take the time to know me, know that I am very real and very honest.
I put myself out there a lot and for that I catch a lot of criticism, but I think that comes with the territory. I think with my heart and I act on emotions a lot. I don’t wish bad [things] on anyone but if I feel attacked I will stand up for myself. I don’t always make the best decisions, but I never try to hurt anyone.
Oh!!! I also cannot multi task at all! I am horrible at it. I am a perfectionist so I put a lot of pressure on myself and that doesn’t mix well with my inability to multi task.
Did I mention I love superheroes? Yup I’m obsessed.
Oh and last last thing… I want everyone to know my sponsors. Alienware computers, Allmax Nutrition, ExtremeFitNutrition.com, Battleware, SoldierFit and BlueGrace Logistics! They keep me doing what I do!
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