LAS VEGAS — After 16 years as a UFC ring girl Brittney Palmer may be tapping out.
She’s in talks that would move her stage from the octagon to star in her own burlesque show on the Las Vegas Strip.
Palmer, 36, would be returning to her topless showgirl roots. She revealed the development during an interview with The Sporting Tribune at her art gallery in the Arts District.
Her manager, Kamela Brewer, sent a text a few hours later saying “we have been bouncing ideas around to do so soon. It’s been an idea the Tropicana is open to in its final years.”
The Oakland Athletics recently reached an agreement with Bally’s and Gaming & Leisure Properties to build a baseball stadium on the Tropicana hotel site along the Las Vegas Strip.
Palmer has come a long way since her early days. One modeling job at a company’s cocktail hour called for her to wear a birdcage over her head as an atmosphere model.
Her path to the UFC wasn’t all puppies and rainbows.
Born in San Diego, she was raised in Las Vegas by her mother. An absentee father got lost in drugs. “My mother was my rock. My dad was not around so much,” said Palmer.
She was “very young” when she got into drugs. In her junior year at Cheyenne High School, her father died.
“That was an extreme low,” she said. But it was also a turning point. “I really came out of it with a sort of independence because I had to be very independent. So, when I graduated, I knew how to make it on my own.
“I came out of Cheyenne happy that I graduated clean from drugs …and with a work ethic and a drive to become something.”
Trading one high for another, she found herself pursuing her dream to a professional dancer.
There were detours. “I was working at the Westgate at the Aladdin and I met someone at a party and he was like ‘I make all this money selling timeshares.’ I thought, ‘I can do that.’ I did terrible.’”
One day she noticed two showgirls standing out in front of the V Ultimate Friday show.
“I saw those girls and I said, ‘I want that job.’ so I asked the girls who their boss was and they introduced me to the producer, David Saxe, and I got the job. I quit Westgate and started working as a showgirl passing out fliers,” she said. “And then I would go to the shows that I was promoting and then I looked at the people on stage and I said ‘I want that job.’ So, I go to the producers of the show and said ‘How do I get it?’’
She approached magician Nathan Burton and convinced him to hire her as his assistant.
That led to topless jobs in other shows, including “X Burlesque” and “Jubilee,” a long-running major production.
One night she looked out into the audience and saw a familiar face. It was Bette Midler with blonde hair. “That was my favorite dancing moment.”
At 19 or 20, she successfully auditioned for the UFC and found herself riding a tornado.
UFC ring girl Brittney Palmer during UFC Fight Night in 2019. (Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports)
She traveled to all parts of the worlds, seeing her face on the cover of Playboy in 2012. She took up painting but she still struggles with bad days.
“I have lost a lot of people that were very important to me,” she said. “I have suffered from addictions and recoveries and I have recovered from those addictions. My addictions brought me to a place when I had never seen the world so gray and I think that is when I started painting in so much color because there is a transition in my work from my early 20s where I was only painting in monochromatic and when I was addicted to drugs with my ex-husband. In that time, I started painting in so much color and I almost feel like I was feeling so bright.”
Her July 6 gallery show will be her largest, with 40 pieces. Due to space limitations, it will be an invitation-only policy.
“The day I choose to retire from the UFC will be filled with emotions as the organization has given me countless blessings, and I have cherished my 16-year journey with them,” she added in a statement. “While I am taking each day as it comes, I can confidently say I am filled with so much joy stepping up to the octagon and contributing to the excitement of this sport.”
Near the end of the wide-ranging interview, I asked her for the best pickup line she ever heard.
“You mean that worked?”
She was at Jeff Beacher’s Madhouse in Los Angeles with Derek Hough of “Dancing with the Stars” fame when a handsome stranger approached her and, with a knee-buckling Australian accent, said “something I can’t repeat,” Palmer said.
“I gave him my number right on the spot. Sorry Derek. And I married him.”
She emerged from the two-year marriage with her spirit and sense of humor undiminished
I wished her a happy belated 36th birthday (June 24) and shamelessly added, “I celebrated my 36th running with the bulls in Pamplona.”
Quicker than a Mae West retort, she countered:
“Well, I ran on the beach with a margarita and mushrooms.”