Work of Art
After almost six years under the Zuffa banner, former WEC sweetheart Brittney Palmer is just hitting her stride in the UFC.
You’ve got a busy day today—photo shoot and then a charity event with Arianny Celeste right after. Do you and Arianny tag team events often?
We’ve been doing it more so lately, it’s been great. I love her, and she loves me, and it’s a good relationship.
Do you do your own charity stuff as well?
I’ve done my own charity things. I did a USO tour in Italy for 10 days with Urijah Faber and Clay Guida. I’ve done the Wounded Warriors, mostly military stuff.
Of all the places you’ve traveled on the Zuffa dime, what place did you not want to leave?
Australia. It’s beautiful. It’s amazing, and I love the place. I love the people, and I love the beach.
How many photo shoots do you think you’ve done in your entire life?
I think 50 sounds about right.
Is it getting old?
No, not at all, because it’s always different. It’s always creative.
How did you get into painting?
When you become an artist, it isn’t something you ‘get into.’ You’re always into it. It’s always been an interest of mine, and I’ve always really appreciated it. I moved to L.A. one-and-a-half years ago to go to art school to pursue this dream of becoming an artist. Whether I make it big and sell a bunch of paintings or have my own little mini collection, I love it, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
You’re enrolled in UCLA’s art program. What’s it like walking around the UCLA campus? Do you get hit on a lot?
Well…a lot of artists aren’t really big UFC watchers. They are kind of hippies and keep to themselves and don’t really watch TV, so I don’t get recognized that often. But when we go around the class and tell what we do, and I say what I do, people start Googling me.
What about just when you’re strolling around the streets?
I get stopped every once and a while, but it’s nothing too dramatic. I look so different in person than I do on TV and in an Octagon outfit. When I’m on TV, I have lashes and makeup. I don’t walk around like that. I walk around with no makeup and very casual in Converse and cutoff shorts. For the most part, I never get recognized. I have the best job anyone could ask for, whether or not people are following me.
Does the gig tend to help or hurt in the dating realm?
It helps weed out people who are insecure and controlling. Their colors show really fast. In my career and where I’m at with Playboy, guys hollering at UFC events, you can tell if a guy will be able to handle that kind of lifestyle. It helps it. It makes me not date losers for too long.
Having 350 professional fighters back you up probably helps too.
Oh yeah. Lots of big brothers.
Is that the relationship between you and the fighters—big brothers?
Yes, and I have to thank Dana White for that. He’s defi nitely put Arianny and me on a pedestal. But I think we deserve to be on it. We’re a family, and we’ve been with them for so long. I’ve been with Zuffa since I was 19 years old, and Arianny has been with the UFC since she was 19, and I’m 25 now and she’s 26, I believe. Dana really treats us like we’re his little girls. No one disrespects us or says anything they shouldn’t. They don’t because we’re Dana’s girls, and you can’t do that.
What does the tattoo on your back say?
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
It’s a sonnet from Shakespeare, and it’s about how being a narcissist is not only cruel to yourself but also cruel to those around you. I grew up in Vegas, and that’s really a town of narcissistic people and a town of ‘Who’s who and who’s better? Who gets a VIP to this club and who makes more money and who’s sleeping with who?’ It’s very toxic, and there’s a reason why a lot of dreams are born and die there. There’s a reason why a lot of people are born and die young there. I grew up in that, and I got away from it, and I’m very appreciative that I didn’t get sucked into that life. It’s very easy to do. I feel bad for a lot of people that did. My father was one of them. It’s kind of an ode to him.
What happened to your father?
He passed away when I was 16. He was in the wrong scene. Wrong place, wrong time.
What about the cross and necklace on your ankle?
That one was a mistake [laughing]. That was a 16-year-old-I-don’t-know-whymy-dad-isn’t-here-so-I’m-justgonna-get-a-tattoo tattoo. Most of my tattoos, I actually had done before I was 18. I have seven all together. I have my dad’s initials on my toe. My shoulder. I have one on my butt. I have one on my
lower back, which was a mistake. I have one on my neck. I have one on my wrist.
Is the shoulder tattoo a reminder to stick to the straight and narrow?
I don’t really need a way to stick to it. It was just something at the time I wanted to do. I fell in love with the sonnet. I was actually in a car accident, and I did a lot of reading. I was just fucking bored. I couldn’t walk, so I said, ‘Fuck! I want to get a tattoo.’ The taste of ink is addicting. Anyone who has a tattoo, I’m sure they have more than one.
So you were in a really bad car accident?
I was 21 years old. I was T-boned and pinned in my car. I had a little two-seater sports car. I fractured my pelvis in three places, two in my groin, one in my coccyx. I couldn’t walk for three months. And that’s when Jersey Shore was just starting, so I was totally over TV and I started reading.
What do you do during fights?
Watch, Tweet, hang out with Arianny, and enjoy the fights. I wish I could drink beer and eat popcorn and nachos with everyone else. But I get the best seat in the house.
What do you do after the fights?
It’s different every time. Arianny and I will either host a party, whether it’s together or apart, or just go back to the hotel room and eat a good meal because we’ve been starving all day. We don’t look at it as another way to party. It’s work for us at the end of the day, so you’ll never see me dancing on a table, and you’ll never see pictures of me wasted.
That’s a shame.
I know. I make it a point to stay that way. I really respect my job, and I really respect Dana White. I hope to be with the UFC for as long as I can, and making mistakes like that just isn’t worth it.
The UFC went through a lot of ring girls in their day. How have you managed to stay out of trouble?
I learned from everyone else’s mistakes [laughing]. I’m an ambassador for the sport and I’m their spokes model, so you must represent the sport as best as you can.
Five years ago, did you picture yourself as an artist?
Yeah. I didn’t think I would be this much into art as I am. I didn’t think I could be a professional artist and make money in art. But I’m so happy for every single day, and I’m happy that I can do what I love. I’m stoked for what could be five years from now.
Do you ever get nervous for your role as a ring card girl?
No. I get nervous speaking. I don’t get nervous performing. I spoke at my friend’s wedding once, and that was really, really bad.
What did you say?
I told her entire family, including his, that one day I wanted to grow up and be just like her. She’s only two years older than me.
Who’s your favorite fighter?
Anderson Silva. He’s the champ, he’s amazing. He’s a family man, he’s a showman. I’m all about the show business.
What are your goals moving forward?
Do this for as long as I possibly can—eventually start hosting a show. Be like the next Brooke Burke. If Kathy Ireland and Brooke Burke had a baby, I’d like to be that child.
Be sure to follow Brittney Palmer on Twitter: @BrittneyPalmer