Felice Herrig is just happy her entire Ultimate Fighter 20 experience is in the rear-view mirror.
Herrig didn't even want to participate in the reality show, because she knew exactly what would happen -- and she was right. Haters came out of the woodwork, and she hasn't heard the end of it on social media. The popular women's strawweight fighter was hoping being on the series would change people's minds about her. It didn't quite work.
"It caused a lot of stress for me," Herrig told MMA Fighting. "I've been kind of depressed."
Herrig didn't even watch the last five or six episodes. The focus on all the drama between her and Heather Jo Clark and the cattiness displayed among the other women turned her off.
"People don't get to see the whole, everything that goes on," Herrig said. "They see little bits and pieces. When all is said and done and everything is airing, they choose what to put on and everything is going to be amplified on the show. Everything is to the extreme. It's so far from reality. People aren't very forgiving."
Herrig (10-5) spent seven weeks in a house with women she had to compete against. Then she toured with those same individuals to promote the show. After that, she had to live through the entire experience again as the show aired from September up until Dec. 10. Herrig joked that it seemed like her entire year was dedicated to TUF.
The good news is that it's all over now. And Herrig did come away from it with a few positives. "Lil' Bulldog" defeated show rival Lisa Ellis by second-round submission (armbar) at The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale on Dec. 12 in Las Vegas. She also reached the quarterfinals of the TUF tournament, beating Clark before falling to Randa Markos.
When the first UFC women's strawweight rankings were released this week, Herrig was No. 8.
"Being in the UFC is so big and just getting my first official win in the UFC made it all go away," Herrig said. "I felt like it was a good way to end the year. As much as it's been a stressful year, that win in the UFC kind of made it all worth it."
Herrig, 30, has already gotten back into the gym and she wants to fight again as soon as possible, perhaps even as early as February. She already has an idea of who the UFC wants to give her next, but she can't divulge it. In 2015, she sees herself climbing the 115-pound ladder and competing in exciting fights.
Despite all the drama in the house, Herrig proved herself as a legitimate top-10 fighter in the division with finishes of Clark and Ellis. Herrig is outgoing, admittedly silly and never one to shy away from taking a provocative selfie and posting it on social media. But she said people forget sometimes that she is an accomplished fighter who is only getting better.
"I do think people underestimate me, but that's because they only see one side of me," Herrig said. "It's a very small piece of who I am. That's all people see, because that's all they choose to see. I don't think I've ever gotten credit for being the fighter I am. Just because I know how to market myself, get attention so to speak, that doesn't mean that's what I'm all about."
Herrig said she doesn't seek out the attention and that's where people misunderstand her. She said she tried to be nice to all the women in the house, but they already prejudged her and there was nothing she could do about it.
"Everybody thinks I'm an attention whore, but I'm really not," Herrig said. "I'm just myself. Things go viral and I'm like I didn't plan that.
"That's not my motive to do what I'm doing. I'm just being myself. I'm realizing more and more how different I am from the average person or the average fighter. To me, it's all I know. But because it's unique in a sense, there's not really that many people like me. I'm not saying this to brag."
Her ability to market herself is what makes the UFC like her so much. But some of what she does and how she acts has a tendency to rub people the wrong way. Herrig admits sometimes she lets people get under her skin a little too much.
"They're the reasons I want to quit fighting," Herrig said. "Sometimes you just want to have a normal life where you don't feel everything you say is going to be put out there and put on blast. There's a lot of times you feel like you can't defend yourself or you don't feel like you should have to, but people are constantly attacking me. I just want to get away."
Herrig isn't going anywhere, though. Despite mixed emotions about the TUF experience, she still has big plans for herself in the UFC next year and beyond. Perhaps that will also come with a new mindset.
"I think maybe I focus on all the people who hate me and talk s--- about me," Herrig said. "There are so many people that love me. I need to focus on that more."