Paige VanZant shot to fame when she made her UFC debut in 2014. She went on a three-fight win streak and quickly became tipped for future greatness in the organisation. Only in her early 20s at this point the future looked bright for the rising star.
Unfortunately, this just wasn’t the case for Paige. While she had a strong fanbase she just always seemed to come up short against elite competition. Paige suffered submission defeats to Strawweight contender Michelle Waterson and former Strawweight champion Rose Namajunas.
A move up to Flyweight didn’t change her fortunes either. Paige lost her debut fight at Flyweight against Jessica-Rose Clarke.
Paige last competed at UFC 251 the first Fight Island event on the 12th of July 2020. This was meant to be her triumphant return after over a year out with two arm breaks.
Again, it just wasn’t to be for Paige.
She was completely outclassed by Amanda Ribas and tapped out from an armbar in the first round. This was the last fight on Vanzant’s most recent UFC contract too.
After the fight it was heavily rumoured that another deal wouldn’t be signed. The once future star now seems to be done in the UFC for now at the tender age of 26.
Many expected Paige to finish up fighting all together. With her shining personality, charisma and good looks the world outside of MMA was still her oyster.
She has often been linked to professional wrestling giants WWE. Paige herself has even said that she’s a big fan and would love to jump into the ring. It’s certainly a world she could excel in. She’s a natural athlete with the look and personality traits needed to succeed in WWE.
She is also well known to mainstream audiences, especially in America. Paige competed in Season 22 of the hit show Dancing with the Stars. She finished second on the show and showed she has serious other talents away from fighting. Paige also appeared on the Food Network show Chopped.
So, she could easily transition into the world of reality television. She could even pick up a role as an on-screen analysist for any MMA company be that UFC or Bellator.
She has also said in the past that she makes a lot of money on Instagram. This would be by advertising products to her 2.7 million Instagram followers.
Modelling is another route she could certainly go down. Paige has successfully done this in the past for huge companies like Nike and Muscle and Fitness along with others.
So, Paige would never have to take another punch ever again if she doesn’t want to.
However according to recent reports, she isn’t ready to hang up the padded gloves just yet.
Its believed VanZant is in talks with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship. BKFC are a new Bare-Knuckle boxing organisation set up in 2018. The organisation is home to the likes of Artem Lobov, Chris Leban, Jason Knight and Paulie Malignaggi.
Its growing women’s divisions also have the likes of Helen Peralta and Bec Rawlings. The latter VanZant already viciously knocked out at UFC on Fox back in 2016.
Its defiantly something that has taken everyone in the MMA community by surprise. The fights can be vicious bloodbaths and while Paige is a seriously tough competitor these fights can leave lasting damage.
If she were to be badly facial scarred it could put a halt on some potential work away from MMA.
The Right Call?
This is completely different from MMA. Paige is known for her good grappling and clinch game. While the boxing side of her game will need some serious improvements if this is the avenue she wants to take.
Like I said she does have plenty of other options. At the end of the day she’s a fighter. She is doing this eight years now and if she wants to continue fighting as a fan, I would be eager to see what she can do. It could be a way to prove to everyone that she wasn’t just all hype.
She is still only 26 and hopefully has a long career ahead of her. It could even be a way back into the UFC in the future if that’s the long-term goal for Paige.
She was advised by UFC president Dana White to explore the free agency market. With talks in the early stages between both VanZant and BKFC it seems to be something Paige has taken on board.
Paige will be looking to fight again in 2020 and wipe away the memory of her most recent defeat.
Could going to BKFC be the right move in her career? Only time will tell on this one. But as a fan of VanZant it really is a surprising move.