Felice Herrig: It’s a fight, it’s not a beauty contest

Felice Herrig responds to Paige VanZant and Joanne Calderwood

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

FOX UFC Fight Night on April 18 will feature a battle between two of the top 10 strawweight fighters in the world when Felice Herrig meets Paige VanZant in New Jersey.

Both Herrig and VanZant made impressive UFC debuts within a month of each other and considering where they sit in the rankings — Herrig at No. 8, VanZant at No. 10 — the fight makes sense in a number of ways.

VanZant thought the fight came together because of another factor.

"I always had on the back of my mind that me and Felice would fight, because we’re the hot girls in the sport," VanZant said with a laugh when speaking to the MMA Hour earlier this month.

Herrig responded on her Instagram page saying ‘looks mean absolutely nothing’ when it comes to fighting and some fans took her to task because during her career the former Ultimate Fighter competitor has done numerous modeling campaigns and photoshoots showing off her more glamorous side.

It’s a fight, it’s not a beauty contest. It’s great you can put these two girls on a poster, but at the end of the day, beauty’s not going to save anybody

— Felice Herrig

Herrig explains when speaking to FOX Sports that when she says looks don’t matter in fighting she’s not degrading VanZant or any other fighter who chooses to market themselves a certain way — herself included — but ultimately being beautiful or ‘hot’ as the case may be won’t determine an outcome in the Octagon.

"I was not degrading Paige or saying anything negative about Paige or even mad at Paige. From a marketing stand point maybe the UFC wanted this matchup. I think when it comes down to the actual fight, looks don’t matter," Herrig said.  "They don’t mean anything. So if anybody’s going to ask me about fighting Paige, I’m not going to talk about her looks or my looks because it’s really irrelevant in the sport.

"As far as marketing goes, everybody sees what I do and I don’t try to hide it.  I was never saying Paige shouldn’t market herself the way she wants to market herself. It’s not about that. It’s about when it actually comes down to the fight and I’m asked about the fight in an interview I’m going to talk about the actual fight."

Herrig was one of the first women’s fighters to really take advantage of the social media age when she posted pictures from shoots and different sponsor campaigns she worked on long before she made it to the UFC.

So when it comes to building a fan base outside the cage, Herrig encourages other fighters including VanZant to go for it, but it still has nothing to do with how they will perform when they face off on April 18.

"It’s a fight, it’s not a beauty contest," Herrig said. "It’s great you can put these two girls on a poster, but at the end of the day, beauty’s not going to save anybody."

Herrig also responded to recent comments from her former housemate Joanne Calderwood, who has been sidelined since her fight in December with no prospects for another bout on the horizon.  Calderwood has been frustrated at responses from UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby, who she says explained that her experience level and undefeated record has served as a roadblock to finding potential opponents.

She was also not too happy at the notion that Herrig vs. VanZant was made because they were the ‘hot girls’ in MMA.

"I mean if that’s true, then it’s pretty s–t," Calderwood told the MMA Hour.

Herrig can completely understand where Calderwood is coming from when speaking about inactivity.  She admits that if her fight with VanZant hadn’t been booked for April she would be just as frustrated and even with that matchup Herrig will still probably ask for another fight in July because she likes to compete as often as possible.

Sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.

"If I didn’t have a fight, I’d probably be upset, too. Most of the girls in the 115 division were in the house. We already had two to three fights in the house and then came off, fought, and you can’t expect they are all going to put us on the same card again? No.  Even for me I’m like I have to wait three or four months to fight again?  To me, this is a long time to wait, but that’s just how it is in the UFC.  Especially when you get to a certain level, you’re not going to be fighting as much," Herrig explained.

"A true fighter wants to fight all the time and stay busy.  I can’t speak for everybody, but for me I always want to stay busy and stay active. After I fight in April, I want to fight on the Chicago card in July and it might not happen. We don’t always get our way."