Let’s Get Ready To Rumble!

Striding to the micro phone in a white tube top and jeans, Carmen Electra looks like she’s been won over. “I was kind of taken aback when I first received the phone call,” she says. “I couldn’t understand why they wanted me to be a part of this.”

But she came around and is spicing up this press conference in West Hollywood, Calif., by endorsing the Ultimate Fighting Championship. UFC has been castigated in the past for organizing “extreme,” “no-holds-barred” cage matches, but it’s now crafting a friendlier image and hyping a big match in Las Vegas in September—all with the help of Electra and other sultry models.

The former Baywatch babe is actually something of a logical choice for the UFC job. She’s been in a few high-profile scuffles herself (with ornery ex Dennis Rodman); she’s fond of Vegas (where she married Rodman in 1998 at the Little Chapel of Flowers); and she appreciates the rigor of athletics in general (Rodman again being the main example, though it’s unclear if you can still call him an athlete).

Electra said she was “blown away” by fighters like Tito Ortiz, whom she described as “so sweet.” (Minutes earlier, Ortiz had gone to great lengths to describe the pleasure he takes in crushing his opponents.)

“We wanted to come out with a big bang,” says Jill Manasse of Vegas agency Lund & Manasse Advertising Ink. Since ads are appearing in titles like Stuff and Maxim, she says, it can’t hurt to show the models huddling on the fighters’ arms.