Arianny Celeste is one of the UFC’s two “Octagon Girls” who stroll around in red bikinis carrying ring-cards before each round of every UFC fight. The Octagon Girls are wildly popular with fight fans, male and female, and they attract as much attention as the fighters. There have been a total of 11 Octagon girls since the beginning of the sport.
Arianny grew up in Las Vegas, and now lives in Los Angeles, where she is pursuing a career in the entertainment business. David Samuels interviewed her in her dressing room before Rampage Jackson’s last fight.
David Samuels: Did you grow up as a fight fan?
Arianny Celeste: No. I started modeling when I was 16, and I happened to go to a casting for a ring card girl. I didn’t even know what it was. I was just paying my way through college. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
DS: Is there a big difference between doing this and a photo shoot?
AC: Definitely different. I’m naturally a shy person, so it was kind of hard. The first show, I was obviously very nervous, but then they asked me to stay, and now it’s been two years. I do every single fight. For what I do, I get paid very well.
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DS: On a day like today, when you know you’re gonna be walking around the octagon in a red bikini in front of 12,000 screaming fight fans, what do you do?
AC: I don’t eat a whole lot of carbs. I always work out, and I always eat healthy. My job is to look good, you know? A lot of people try to get ready for bikini season. I like to say I have bikini season all year.
DS: Did your facial expression when you walk around take a lot of practice?
DS: It’s a very distinctive expression.
AC: Really? What do you mean? I’m a very hard to read kind of person.
DS: I guess it’s just your personality coming through, then. You look totally blank.
AC: Yes. I’m actually very introverted. I keep to myself. But when I walk around, I usually try to make eye contact with the fans, just to make their night, you know?
DS: Have you become a fan of the sport?
AC: Definitely. I have my favorite fighters, I have my favorite events, I have my favorite venues. I’m not supposed to be biased, and I’m not supposed to say it, but of course I will. I like Anderson Silva. Very humble, very nice. George St. Pierre, I saw him win the title. The emotion he had when he won it was just amazing.
DS: Will at least one fighter on each card ask you out?
AC: No. I don’t interact with the fighters that way. Of course I have friends that are fighters, but I usually hang out with UFC staff. They’re like family.
DS: Do you practice any martial arts yourself?
AC: I do kickboxing, boxing, muay tai. Just to keep in shape. I’m obviously never gonna compete, but I do it just for fun and working out.
DS: What do you do after the fights? You must feel drained afterward.
AC: Tonight, I’m gonna have a good dinner. I’m gonna go for some carbs—maybe some french fries. Reward myself a little. I’ve been hosting after parties for fun, and profit. So I did one yesterday and I have one tonight. And those are always fun because you feel like a celebrity, do the whole red carpet, take all these pictures. You get your own VIP section. It’s just awesome. You just get to relax, have fun, dance, drink, whatever. It’s at Tao tonight, at the Venetian, with BJ Penn and Uriah Faber. It’s for the one-year anniversary of Fight Magazine.
DS: In your spare time, besides keeping in shape, do you have particular things that you like to do?
AC: I like to study different languages.
DS: What languages can you speak?
AC: I only speak Spanish and English naturally, because Spanish is my first language. But I’d like to learn Italian and Portuguese, because I heard they’re like the easiest ones to learn if you know Spanish already. And there’s a lot of Brazilian people in this business and stuff, so I think it would be cool to know that.
DS: Is there anything about the martial arts that appeals to you? The spiritual part? The physical discipline?
AC: Yes, very much so. You know, to be honest with you, I was completely clueless when I got into this business, of what it really took to be an MMA fighter. I saw it with my guy friends, and all I saw was blood, and sweat everywhere, and I’m thinking like everybody else, this is a savage sport and I can’t believe this is going on. And then I actually get into this business, and I see how much of a science it is. They watch every little thing they put into their diet. They’re studying all these different kind of martial arts. I have so much respect for them. And it’s a tough, tough, tough thing to do.
DS: Is that one reason you wouldn’t date a fighter?
AC: Yeah. I think they’re all psychos. Whatever makes them happy. But it’s not for me.
DS: Do you ever dream of the moment you can turn 50 and let yourself go and get really fat?
AC: Oh, I can’t wait. Actually, 50’s pretty young, so maybe 65. I still want to be hot when I’m 50. Look at Demi Moore. She’s pretty hot.
DS: I look at Rampage. It’s clear that all he dreams of is the day he can eat as much as he wants.
AC: I talk to him too. He says he hates training. Hates dieting. Loves food. Everybody does.