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NORM Q&A: UFC’s Arianny Celeste celebrates birthday, new TV gig

Maybe a bit of destiny came into play when Arianny Celeste-Penelope Lopez Marquez was born on Nov. 12, 1985.

On her eighth birthday, UFC 1 was born in Denver.

So she’s celebrating her birthday this week and the UFC’s 20th anniversary. It should be some party Saturday, with UFC 167 at the MGM Grand Garden.

Now known as Arianny Celeste, she has been one of the most visible UFC ambassadors since she became a ring girl in 2006.

The former Eldorado High School cheerleader-turned Octagon Girl is the subject of this week’s Q-and-A interview.

She discusses her new TV project, where she wants to be in 10 years and the “weirdest” proposal she ever got.

Talk about your new TV project (She made her debut Oct. 22 as a co-host on “Overhaulin’,” an extreme auto makeover series on the Velocity channel).

“It’s a show that’s been on for seven seasons. It’s all about cars and people that love cars. Viewers can submit people that deserve consideration. It’s about people who have been working on muscle cars for years and years. We surprise them. It’s a very emotional thing. I’ve seen three grown men cry so far. It’s a really amazing show.”

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

“I want to be hosting shows like what I’m doing right now. I really enjoy it. I’m learning so much and getting experience.”

What was your claim to fame in high school? Sports? Debate team?

“It was a mixture of both. I was kind of nerdy because I was really smart and focused on schoolwork but at the same time, I was a rebel and a cheerleader. I was a little bit of the popular girl. I was a heartbreaker; I was voted biggest heartthrob in high school. I was a mixture of dorky-popular. Everybody knew that I was kind of quirky and had some loose screws but they liked it!”

Who is the most famous person that you went to high school with?

“Steven Jackson, the football player. He was several classes ahead of me.” (Jackson, who attended Oregon State, was the St. Louis Rams’ first round pick in 2004. In 2010, he surpassed Eric Dickerson as the Rams’ all-time rushing leader.)

What would you consider your hidden talents?

“I was a gymnast and I do sing. It’s a bit of a hobby. I released a single (in 2012). It’s called ‘Top of the World.’ It’s a dance/club song.” It was a collaboration with the electronic dance music DJ duo Manufactured Superstars.

Are you single? Dating?

“I’m dating. With a steady person. I don’t really date around. I don’t have much luck meeting people that way so I’m dating one person right now.”

As a smart and successful woman, why do you think it is so difficult for many men to date women who are smart and successful?

“I think its hard for some men that aren’t strong enough to accept a strong woman. But there are a lot of men out there who do support independent women, who do push them higher and not drag them down. It takes a certain man to be with me. … I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

What is the best quality a man can have?

“Confidence, sincerity and loyalty.”

What is one of your favorite things to do in Las Vegas?

“A nice dinner. There are so many amazing restaurants out here. I try one of the five-star restaurants and enjoy just sitting down and having a three-hour meal and drink with great friends around. That’s one of my favorites. My favorite restaurant is Botero in the Wynn.”

What is your guilty pleasure?

“Anything salty, like pizza, of course. And In-N-Out; I love In -N-Out.”

Who is your favorite clothing designer?

“Super high-end is Dolce & Gabbana. I don’t have a lot of it. If I do splurge, I go Dolce & Gabbana because I think it’s classy and sexy.”

You must get many gifts from your fans. What are the strangest and best gifts you’ve ever received from fans?

“The best gift was a spa package for my birthday, which was really nice. … The weirdest was probably a little engagement ring that some guy gave me at a signing. He got on his knees and made a huge spectacle out of him proposing to me. It was kind of embarrassing for me but it was interesting. I was as sweet as possible to him. I was nice and took a couple of pictures. I said something like ‘thank you so much’ and I kept the ring. But it wasn’t anything special.”

If you had to pick out your favorite photo shoot, which one would it be?

“The last one I did for UFC 360 magazine. I was on the cover and I designed a bikini just for this shoot. I made it myself; it was a proud moment for me. One of my goals is to start a bikini line, because I’m practically in one every day. I really loved the photos; there was a beach in the background. I feel the best when I’m by the beach and by the water. This was a really beautiful shoot.”

NOTE: Haley Caldwell contributed to this interview.

Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at 702-383-0244 or norm@reviewjournal.com. Find more at normclarke.com. Follow @Norm_Clarke on Twitter. “Norm Clarke’s Vegas” airs Thursdays on the “Morning Blend” on KTNV-TV, Channel 13.

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