Felice Herrig, who is just coming off a unanimous win against Kate Meehan for the IKF Pro Muay Thai title is now preparing for her first MMA bout in February. Felice was nice enough to take some time to talk with Fightergirls about her MMA debut.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, FELICE! START OFF BY GIVING ME A RECAP OF 2008 FOR YOU AND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2009?
I started fighting for Chuck Norris’s World Combat League at the end of 2007, which brought me into 2008. The WCL was tough for me because it was completely out of my weight class. But I made some adjustments and made it work. My WCL season ended in March, and ironically my last WCL fight I got called to start hosting an mma t.v. show called Combatwire on CLTV. I loved hosting this show. I had the opportunity to work with so many great fighters and am very thankful for the experience and opportunities it brought me. In April of 2008, I also started training for mma. I started training at the Midwest training center in Schaumburg Il, and also continue to work with my boxing coach Shannon States in Elgin, Il. I fought a Muay Thai fight in Tampa Florida against Jessica Sanchez August 9th and won unanimously. Then November 15th, I fought in Chicago for the first time in almost 3 years for the IKF pro Muay Thai title against Kate Meehan. This was a 5-round fight which I also won unanimously. In 2009, I am looking forward to many more fights. I also hope for that but it doesn’t always go my way.
CONGRATS ON THE WINS! NOW, YOU HAVE YOUR MMA DEBUT IN FEBRUARY ON THE UWC CARD, WHO ARE YOU FIGHTING AND WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT HER?
Feb 21 I am fighting in Washington D.C. for the UWC. I am fighting a very good boxer named Monica Lovato. She has about 25 or so boxing matches and also a pro title belt. But as far as I know the only fighting experience she has is in boxing.
YOU HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET INTO MMA FOR THE PAST YEAR, CORRECT? WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S BEEN DIFICULT FOR YOU TO GET A FIGHT IN MMA? DO YOU THINK GIRLS ARE INTIMIDATED BY YOUR STAND-UP SKILLS?
I have been trying to fight mma for quite some time now. It has been very hard, for one I am a very accomplished standup fighter and the fight always starts on the feet. Also, with me being a professional fighter my first mma fight also has to be as a pro. It’s just really hard to find a good matchup. Because I’m a tough competitor I know that the only girls who are going to want to fight me are also going to be tough competitors. But I’m a fighter and am prepared to fight some tough girls.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE TRANSITION FROM MUAY THAI/KICKBOXING TO MMA? WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO TAKE THIS DIRECTION IN YOUR CAREER?
I am really excited to make the transition into mma. I decided to step out of my comfort zone and fight mma because it’s the fastest growing sport right now and also where all the opportunities are for fighters. I know that if I really want a career in fighting I need to be fighting mma. That’s where the opportunities are and that’s where the TV is and the sponsors. If I want to get exposure and speed my career along I know mma is the way to go. But I am used to stepping out of my comfort zone. I rise to the occasion. I started with just full contact kickboxing but constantly had to fight different styles just to get fights. I then made the transition into mma and on “Fight Girls”, that was my first time training mma.
Then the world combat League was a completely different style and weight class for me. So I feel pretty well rounded and diverse right now. I can adapt to many different scenarios, and fighting styles. I learn quick and have really good athletic ability. I think I will go far in mma and do more in mma then I have done with the standup. In order to be a good mma fighter you need to be well rounded in your skills. All the experience I have had to this point has really helped me become diverse in my skills.
WHO ARE YOU TRAINING WITH FOR THIS UPCOMING FIGHT AND HOW MAY YOUR TRAINING HAVE TRAINED FOR MMA?
I am training at the Midwest Training Center in Schaumburg, IL for wrestling, muay thai and jiu jitsu, and with my boxing coach Shannon States in Elgin. Training is definitely different then it was when I was only a standup fighter. When I only did standup I felt that my cardio was much better because it was constant punching and kicking. And now with the mma I find that I’m doing more strength training. Its hard pushing around all the guys. Working standup with guys is much different then rolling around with guys. There is so much more physical contact. HA! Sometimes I feel like my body is being crushed and I’m going to suffocate. I don’t have any girls to train with at the gym so I have been working with a few of the good female fighters in the area that I know of.
HOW DO YOU FEEL YOUR JIU JITSU/WRESTLING TRAINING IS COMING ALONG? HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TRAINING IN MMA?
I feel I am progressing very quickly in my mma skills such as the Jiu jitsu and wrestling. I have been training in it for 9 months now. Right now my strength is in my standup. I don’t expect to be the best mma fighter right away. I know I have to pay my dues and put in the work. But I’m a hard worker. All in due time my ground game will be just as sharp as my standup.
YOU ARE KNOWN FOR YOUR AGGRESSIVE STAND-UP SYLE, HOW DO YOU THINK THAT FIGHTING A SOUTHPAW PURE-BOXER MAY REACT TO YOUR STYLE OF FIGHTING? DO YOU FEEL THAT IN THIS PARTICLE SITUATION, A KICKBOXER MAY HAVE SOMEWHAT OF AN ADVANTAGE TO A BOXER?
I am known for my aggressive fighting style. But I adapt according (kind of like a chameleon). My last fight against Kate Meehan I knew she expected me to come forward nonstop and be aggressive. So I changed my game plan up. I was more of a counter fighter this last fight. I think that threw off her game. My coaches are very good with strategies. I always have a plan A and a plan B. I am aggressive but this is an mma fight with much smaller gloves, and I’m fighting a very good standup fighter so I know I will have to be a little more cautious. I think a muay thai fighter does have an advantage against a boxer in an mma fight though. The range is completely different and boxers aren’t use to clinching like muay thai fighters.
MMA ISN’T ANYTHING NEW TO YOU, YOU LAUNCHED AN MMA SHOW HERE IN CHICAGO THIS PAST YEAR. HOW HAS THIS BEEN COMING ALONG? WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM THIS EXPERIENCE?
I did host an mma show in Chicago called, Combatwire. The show went well and I had a lot of fun doing it. I don’t know if I’m suppose to be saying this but the company that owned the show actually went bankrupt so the show is no longer. Just hosting the show and going to the different mma events and being around mma fighters taught me a lot about the sport. It was fun while it lasted. I’m sure there will be more opportunities to come. I’m not a shy girl. I love the cameras. I can only hope for the best. Right now my fighting is my number one. But I hope the fighting will bring me different opportunities to do more in the sport, hopefully on TV.