Felice Herrig lost her love for MMA but a fateful call from Dana White changed everything
Following a loss to Tecia Torres at the last Invicta FC event in early December, Felice Herrig wasn’t in the mood to deal with media or questions about the fight — she just wanted some time alone to reflect and figure out what path to take next.
Herrig, who has been fighting professionally for more than a decade, was going through the rigors of a small career slump. Heading into the fight with Torres she was actually on a four fight win streak, but this was during a time that saw her bounce around between several promotions as she watched Bellator close the doors on their women’s division.
The light at the end of the tunnel of a long career spent in combat sports suddenly appeared to be a train bearing down on her.
That’s when her phone rang.
The caller ID came from Las Vegas, but without recognizing the caller Herrig sent it to voicemail several times. Finally fed up with the repeated rings from the same number, she asked her manager to call this mystery person and find out what they wanted.
"Dana White called and he called me four times and I thought it was like media, like somebody who just didn’t lose my number and didn’t get permission to call me so I was like ‘I’m not answering’ because it was a Vegas number. I told Brian (Butler) hey can you call this number and tell me who it is because they’ve called me like four times. He called me back and was like ‘you’re going to want to get that, it’s Dana White’," Herrig revealed when speaking to FOX Sports. "He actually on the spot on the phone told me I was going to be on the next Ultimate Fighter."
Herrig won’t chalk up White’s timing to fate or destiny, but it certainly felt that way given her mindset after the fight with Torres in December.
As a veteran of 14 MMA fights and more than 30 kickboxing bouts, Herrig has seen the ups and downs of a fight career that started more than 10 years ago. Prior to White’s call and even before she stepped into the cage for Invicta, Herrig was at a career crossroads.
She was unsure what would eventually come from her fight career. The last thing Herrig wanted to do was become just another name in some random regional promotion, toiling away just trying to make rent every month. There had to be something more for Herrig to want to stick around.
"I was to the point where I was fighting not because I loved it anymore, but because so much was happening in women’s MMA now and in the sport in general that if I left now, I would (regret it), I was this close when everything was happening. To leave before I got the really big payoff would be a shame," Herrig said.
"Even before my last fight I was just kind of like burnt out a little bit. I’ve been fighting for 11 years now and with women there’s never really been an end goal. You never really know if all your hard work is ever going to pay off for something big or if this is your life. You’re going to dedicate yourself and barely make ends meet. I mean I do okay for myself with my sponsors and endorsements, but still it’s like ‘oh does it end once I stop fighting?’."
The call from White and the invitation to be a part of The Ultimate Fighter season 20 with the best women in the world in the strawweight division was exactly the catalyst Herrig needed to find her passion for fighting again.
"I’ve kind of got my hunger back," Herrig said. "Now that I’m in the UFC, when I choose to stop fighting I can always say that I’ve done everything in the sport. Anything you could possibly imagine, I’ve done it all. It feels really good."