Herrig vs VanZant: Beauty is skin deep, or do we care?

The dust had barely settled for the two female straw weights in UFC Fight Night 64 before a new storm brews. The UFC On Fox 15 is scheduled to feature another interesting match between Felice Herrig and Paige VanZant

VanZant had been featured plenty in the media since her debut UFC fight (and win) last November. Dana White had called her a ‘Rising star’ and Reebok, in signing her an individual endorsement deal with VanZant provided fuel for the hype of her ‘stardom’ by putting her name on the same sentence with elite MMA fighters Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor, Anthony Pettis and Johny Hendricks.

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Herrig is not impressed. In respond to a comment VanZant made during an interview where Paige called Herrig “predictable” and a “stepping stone”, Felice said, “I realized then that she either is starting to believe her own hype or just doesn’t understand what it takes to become elite at something…” Her sentiments are quite understandable – Herring had 43 professional fights in her career, fought in numerous Martial Arts organisations and held numerous striking titles. Paige VanZant’s only title was the self-appointed “5th degree Bad Ass” (as stated in her UFC fighter profile).

Alas, much as Herrig would not care to admit, she and VanZant would possibly have a few more similarities than she’d realise.

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While female fighters are still a minority and Herrig has a respectable professional fighting career, neither she nor VanZant are close to being elites in their field. The reality is, UFC is not simply a Martial Arts organisation but also a commercial enterprise, and Dana White is a true businessman. A YouTube comment in pre-fight interview of Maryna Moroz summed it up pretty brutally, “My goodness. If UFC has a full roster of hot female fighters there will be a lot more interest in WMMA.” Herrig, frequently appearing in provocative photoshoots certainly knows to milk her assets well.

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Ronda Rousey and Gina Carano had led the way in “hot female fighters”, fighting their way from the Octagon to Hollywood. But no one forgets how extraordinarily good they are in martial arts. They may have blazed the trail for great martial artist with great looks, but it is easy to forget that the two does not always come hand in hand.

Chingyin Ng, originally from Singapore had lived in London, UK and is now based in Melbourne Australia. She had trained extensively in a variety of martial arts including Muay Thai and Boxing. As MMA gains popularity in Australia and Asia, Chingyin follows all news and progress with enthusiasm and with her unique and bilingual background she is able to provide a different perspective.