PS3 Attitude interviews female MMA stars Michele Gutierrez and Felice Herrig – ‘Don’t hit me once or I’ll hit you ten times!’
When Kung Fu Factory’s brutally violent Supremacy MMA drops on to the PlayStation 3 in June, female MMA fighters will, for the first time ever, be represented in a videogame.
We caught up with two of its leading female stars, Michele “Diablita” Gutierrez and Felice “Lil Bulldog” Herrig and discussed the current perception of female fighters, their future aspirations, vanity and what it’s like to see your leg being snapped in half. Ouch.
Be warmed, we’ve been told that if we don’t publish nice things, Felice and Michele will punch us ten times. We’ve seen videos of these girls in action – so we won’t argue!
How does it feel to be in a videogame?
[Felice Herrig] Amazing.
[Michele Gutierrez] A dream come true. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that most people will never see, and it feels pretty good.
It’s also a landmark moment, with you both being the first female fighters to appear in a game, right?
[Michele] We’ve made history.
[Felice] We’ll be forever be remembered as the very first female MMA fighters in a game.
l expect to see it in a pub quiz 50 years from now.
[Felice] Yeah. Maybe it’ll make us a household name.
How do you see the overall perception of female fighters today?
[Michele] Well, it can go either way. Either it’s really good or it’s really bad. You know, either they don’t like it at all or they love it.
[Felice] It depends on whose eyes you’re looking from.
[Michele] We need to find a happy medium, but I think her and I are changing people’s perceptions a little bit.
I guess you see this as a step in the right direction towards finding a mainstream audience?
[Michele] Yes, definitely.
[Felice] It depends on [many things], like whose… you know, if people have seen female MMA fights, and it depends on what fights they’ve seen, you know, who they’ve seen, who they’ve watched and how they outcome was. It kind of depends on how seriously they take it.
How would you describe yourself in the game?
[Felice] It’s friggin’ awesome.
[Michele] We just played it for the first time since LA, which was like three/four months ago, and we were having so much fun. We were screaming at each other.
[Felice] … but we critique ourselves, because we’re women. So we’re like, “Oh, I don’t want my body to look like that.” As far as the videogame aspect of it, like the fighting – the technical aspect of it – everything looks just like us fighting. But you know, we’re women so we’re critical on ourselves. “I look fat in this! Can you make me skinnier Ricci (developer)?”
[Michele] It’s not so much even our bodies, it’s just our faces. I can see a guy playing it and being like “eww”.
[Felice] They’re still doing finishing touches on it.
[Michele] We’re going to take him out (Ricci) for drinks tonight and tell him he needs to change our faces.
Ah right, so you’re going to twist his arm and do a couple of moves on him?
[Felice] He hasn’t finished our facial expressions for the videogame. That’s the thing too, because the game is still like, in its… not so much in the beginning stages any more but they keep adding more elements. Even right now, we can’t check leg kicks, but in the videogame we’re going to be able to check leg kicks. So it’s hard to tell until we see the finished product. But right now, it’s pretty awesome.
[Michele] All I know, is Mal is better looking than me. haha.
How are your fighting skills in the game. Do you think they’ve nailed it?
[Michele] Just like us. I think it’s pretty dead on. They did really well with that.
[Felice] Yeah. [I'm] muay Thai. She’s a boxer. There are also other styles in the game. There’s savate. It’s nice how they take the different styles, because in MMA everybody has different strengths. So they play on your strengths, and that’s like the main moves you’re actually doing in the videogame. So you have to kind of stylistically match people up together or know how to use each character.
How would you describe each of your own fighting styles?
[Michele] Now that we’re doing MMA, we have to be more all-rounded, but in my fights I like to keep it on the feet. And, you know, 90% of it is fast hands and throwing punches with kicks every now and then, but now I’m on the ground, I’m doing all that kind of stuff. You know, in MMA, you have to be good at everything.
[Felice] MMA is very evolving, and if you want to be at the top level, you have to continue to evolve. Like, I’ll always stick to my roots – my background will always be the striking and the kickboxing and muay Thai, but now I’m actually having a lot of fun working on my weaknesses and brushing up on elements of my game that are considered holes in my game.
[Michele] Everybody I fight, their gameplan is to take me down. I have fast hands and they’re not going to stand with me. It doesn’t matter, I’ll always hit you before you hit me, but if they take me down, I’m like a fish out of water.
Do you think they’ve replicated that in the game?
[Michele] Oh yeah.
[Felice] Maybe that’s why there are certain moves we can’t do on each other. We’re still learning the videogame. It’s nice because it’s simple, which, you know, with a lot of videogames now, you have to learn so many different combos and you have to read so much about the game and its controls and the different moves just to play – this, pretty much, you can just pick it up and you will probably be able to play it, and think this is fun. It’s fast paced, just like MMA. You don’t have to press like five buttons for one move. It’s simple: it’s forward, back, elbow, knee and kick – like one button for each move. I enjoy playing it because I can.
Have you played each other a lot?
[Michele] Yeah, that’s what we’ve been doing.
Who’s been winning?
[Felice] Either one.
[Michele] We’re kinda trying to learn it. It’s just so cool because if we get kicked really hard in the liver, you actually do what you do. You go really slow and you see the face wince. It’s really, really detailed.
[Felice] Sometimes when she plays me I’ll let her beat me up, just because she’s my character beating herself up.
It’s a very aggressive game, isn’t it?
[Michele] It is, yeah. My leg, it snapped in half.
What’s it like seeing your leg being broken?
[Michele] It was weird because the bone was actually sticking out – like, it was out here.
[Felice] I had to look away. It was like, “oh, I don’t want to see this.” As much as I’m violent in the ring, I cringe at the sight of blood. I don’t know why. I’m not in the ring. When I’m fighting it doesn’t bother me, but if I actually look at it… If I watch a movie and someone gets stabbed or shot, I have to look away.
[Michele] Also, when I’m at a fight and I sit in the front, if I see someone get hit really hard, I’m like “oh, I can’t watch”, but when I’m in there, if I get hit hard, I won’t freak out.
I guess that’s the adrenaline?
[Felice] Oh yeah. You go into survival mode. You know, I have that killer instinct, like an animal in nature who just kills when they’re in danger – they don’t think about it. They go into survival mode, and I think that’s what it’s like in the ring. You’re in danger, someone is trying to take your head off, so you just go into survival mode. I don’t feel anything really in there. I don’t care. If I get hit one time, I feel like I’m losing so I feel like I have to come back super aggressive and hit you ten times just because you hit me one time.
I’ll keep that in mind.
[Felice] Yeah! Don’t hit me once or I’ll hit you ten times!
I won’t! If you could fight anyone, who would you fight?
[Michele] I’d fight Jens, because I love him. I love Jens.
[Felice] I want to fight everyone, honestly.
[Michele] Or Malaipet, or the big guy with the mowhawk.
[Felice] I just want to be able to fight the guys; you know, just any guy I want to fight at the weekend.
[Michele] That would open up a whole new can of political worms.
Can you fight men in the game?
[Felice] No. In the game you can’t do it.
[Michele] I wouldn’t want to fight a guy in real life though, either.
[Felice] I think with the brutality of the videogame, it wouldn’t be good if a guy beats us up and breaks our leg.
It would make some bad headlines.
[Felice] Yeah, for sure. So it’s good they kept it like this.
Do you want to be in more games in the future?
[Felice] Yeah. I want to be in tons of games now, haha.
What’s the next medium after games, movies?
[Felice] I would love to be in a movie. When I started off with fighting – you know, all growing up I always wanted to be an actress. I always had a kind of star quality, I always knew I’d do something big. It just so happens that I’m athletic and you know I always wanted to, you know, be in movies. So it’s kind of like killing two birds with one stone. It’s hard for all those actresses. You have to go to all of those auditions and I thought, okay, I can make a name in the fighting and that can open up other doors, which it has. You know, I didn’t knock on 505′s doors and say: “Hey, put me in a videogame or it’ll hit you ten time!”
What do you think of the state of MMA? it appears to be booming at the moment?
[Michele] Yeah definitely. For the men, it’s really taken off in the past ten years and I feel like for women it’s really growing as well, but it’s going to take a while to get over that hump. It just keeps growing but it’s still in the beginning stages like it was for men ten years ago. It’s just going to take a while for us to get our recognition, but a lot of the females now keep opening up more doors and breaking more barriers to help the future of MMA. So we’re kind of paving the way and pioneering. We’re kind of paving the way for the up and comers so they won’t have to go through the same trials and tribulations that we went through.