Coming off a win in her last professional mixed martial arts bout, 30-year-old Calie Cutler will test the waters of bare knuckle fighting when she meets former champion Christine Ferea on the BKFC 12 card on September 11.
With a degree in general biology and working full-time as a lab technician, Cutler is not your average combat sports athlete. It wasn't until recently that her peers in the workplace would come to accept her extracurricular activities.
"They didn't know what I did until they would see my face afterwards. I'd come in to the lab and they would be like 'wow, what happened to you?'"
Cutler said that she now works in a mechanics lab where the crew is a little more understanding of what she does and maintains an interest in watching her compete.
"This is the time to do bare knuckle," Cutler said of her acceptance back home. "If I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it now while this group enjoys watching what I do."
Fighting didn't always come naturally for the Eastern Michigan University graduate. She did begin wrestling in 7th grade and continued all the way up to her junior year of college, but it was because other stars didn't align.
"I didn't make the cheerleading team, so wrestling just sort of worked out," she said.
From there, it was time to transition to competitive mixed martial arts.
"I was punch shy in the beginning," Cutler said. "It took a couple of years to adjust. Once I faced better talent, tougher opponents, I had to punch, and things just clicked."
Now working with striking coach Kara Ro, former professional boxer, Cutler has more confidence in her hands.
"I'm feeling like I'm ready," Cutler said. "Little baby steps. I've been working with her for four years now."
Ready or not, Cutler has a big test in front of her on September 11 in Christine Ferea.
"She's the only girl I can get to stick," Cutler said after previous attempts to compete for BKFC had fallen through.
"I know she (Ferea) will show up."
Cutler states that she has been trying to get a fight since August of 2019 but things just kept falling apart at the end.
"It's going to be a test of will. She's no joke," Cutler said with praise for her opponent.
While Cutler is new to the sport, she realizes having a game plan and actually executing it inside the squared circle are two different things.
"There's a game plan," Cutler said. "But, since this is my first time I know I have to just go with the flow too. It is hard to spar bare knuckle because you don't want to hurt your training partner. I might just have to adjust on the fly."
Cutler's aggressive fighting style earned her the nickname "The Honey Badger," early on in her career.
"I was new to the sport and they put me up against a boxer," she said. "She was punching me, and I ran through her, and won. My coaches were like 'that girl does not give a f*ck.' It was right around the time the Honey Badger videos were going viral, so it kind of just stuck."
Will "The Honey Badger" be able to walk right through Christine Ferea on September 11? Time will tell.
Download the BKTV App at BKTVapp.com to watch the BKFC 12 fight card on pay-per-view. The event will be broadcast live from Daytona Beach, Florida beginning at 9 pm ET on Friday, September 11.