Nicdali "The Night Queen" Rivera-Calanoc said on Feb. 26 in an exclusive interview with Long Island MMA Examiner Eric Holden that she's not quite sure what to make of the fact that her sexy weigh-in appearance from her 2011 bout against Felice Herrig garnered more attention than the fight itself.
"It's cool and sad at the same time," Rivera-Calanoc said of the XFO weigh-in video going viral as it did. "I'm just me. I've been modeling since I was a kid and I've been doing MMA since age 18. They are both a part of who I am."
Most female fighters would be slightly annoyed that some fans choose to focus on physical appearance and sex appeal during weigh-in events rather than the talent inside the cage, but Rivera-Calanoc doesn't let it bother her.
Rivera-Calanoc has other things to worry about, namely a battle against veteran striker Cassie "Sassy" Rodish on Apr. 5 at Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, in a bout that may have title implications.
Rodish, a 32-year-old atomweight, is riding a four-fight win streak, while Rivera-Calanoc dropped two of her last three. Despite being five years younger and considered by some to be the underdog, "The Night Queen" isn't afraid to square off against a legit top ten atomweight such as Rodish.
"I don't consider myself the underdog," Rivera-Calanoc said of her Invicta FC 5 fight. "I have more experience, and I'm very hungry for the win. I just want to keep improving."
With Rodish ranked by several MMA sites as a top ten atomweight, some consider her fight against Rivera-Calanoc to possibly be a No. 1 contender bout for the chance to duke it out with the winner of the Jessica Penne vs Michelle Waterson fight that is also scheduled for Invicta FC 5.
"I don't know if this is a true No. 1 contender bout," Rivera-Calanoc explained. "But when I win, I hope to get a title shot."
"The Night Queen" is also known for her close friendship to UFC star Miesha Tate, who fights Cat Zingano on Apr. 13 at the TUF 17 finale.
Rivera-Calanoc says she doesn't mind the UFC not having a 105-pound division, and that she'll be cheering hard for Tate regardless of the UFC's plans to add an atomweight class.
"She is still my best friend," Rivera-Calanoc said of Tate. "We are both very busy these days, so it makes it more difficult. We're still very close though. She's a great person inside and out. I think Cat is a good fight for her and I can't wait to see all the things Miesha's been working on come to bloom. It doesn't matter to me if the UFC has a 105-pound division. I love fighting for Invicta FC. Maybe five years down the road, the UFC will add an atomweight class."
MMA fans can check out Rivera-Calanoc on Twitter @nicdali, and see her live in action on Apr. 5 at Invicta FC 5.