Strawweight mainstay Felice Herrig seemingly retires at UFC Vegas 56 after her loss to Karolina Kowalkiewicz.
The first round was competitive between Kowalkiewicz and Herrig with both competitors landing solid shots and combinations. The tide began to change in the second round. As Kowalkiewicz started to land more solid combinations and stiff jabs, Herrig decided to shoot for a takedown but was reversed by Kowalkiewicz. Herrig was able to fend off an initial rear-naked choke attempt by Kowalkiewicz but finally succumbed to the pressure and hard shots that gave way to Kowalkiewicz hooking in another rear-naked choke and getting the tap, late in the second round.
Credit to Paul Felder for giving up the moment and mic to Herrig during the post-fight interviews after Herrig had placed her gloves down inside the Octagon.
Felder brought up Herrig placing her gloves down and what was going through her mind, Herrig replied “You know, it’s been an honor being in the UFC for eight years and fighting for 20 [years.] The biggest thing for me, you know I had two ACL surgeries and I really wanted to not go out like that. I wanted to prove to myself that I could overcome two knee surgeries, come back and still fight at the highest level.”
Herrig followed up by saying “I felt better than ever in training, my mind felt great, had so much good energy, positive and great people around me, great coaches. I knew that if I wasn’t feeling it in the cage that it was just going to be my last fight.”
“Not in a bad way, I just feel like there’s something else for me. It’s time to close this chapter in my life, which is really sad because I’ve committed the past 20 years to it but it’s just time to move on to something else” Herrig teary-eyed explained. The crowd at the UFC Apex responded with cheers and clapping for the mainstay UFC strawweight.
Recap of a UFC Strawweight Original
Herrig (14-10 MMA, 5-5 UFC) entered the UFC 9-5 in her MMA career. “Lil’ Bulldog” had already faced other future mainstays of the UFC like Carla Esparza and Tecia Torres in other promotions before entering the UFC.
On December 11, 2013, Herrig and ten other strawweight fighters were invited to compete on Season 20 of “The Ultimate Fighter: A Champion Will Be Crowned.” The coaches for the respective teams were UFC lightweights, Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis. The season was in place to crown the first-ever UFC women’s strawweight champion.
Herrig was the sixth fighter to go to Team Pettis. Herrig faced Heather Jo Clark in a rematch in the preliminary round of the tournament, Herrig won their first fight by split decision at Bellator 94. Herrig won the preliminary round against Clark, this time by unanimous decision. Herrig faced Randa Markos in the quarterfinal round, losing the contest by submission.
After losing in the quarterfinal round of the competition, Herrig bounced back, defeating Lisa Ellis by submission in the second round at The Ultimate Fighter Finale event in December of 2014. Herrig then lost to Paige VanZant by decision.
After her loss to VanZant, Herrig defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish (a notorious moment that many fans won’t forget), and Cortney Casey all in rapid succession to go 4-0 in her last four just in the time span of 17 months. The wheels started to come off for Herrig though as she followed up the four-fight winning streak with a four-fight losing streak, losing to Kowalkiewicz, Michelle Waterson, Virna Jandiroba, and again Kowalkiewicz before leaving her gloves in the octagon for presumably the last time.
Respect to Herrig on an entertaining and successful career in MMA, we at Overtime Heroics wish you well in your next stage of life.
Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images