Superstar Makes Massive Change, Leaves the UFC: ‘It’s Official’

UFC Octagon

Getty The Octagon prior to the start of the UFC 250 event at UFC APEX on June 06, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Women’s fighting superstar Paige “12 Gauge” VanZant is no longer with the UFC, she has signed a contract with the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC). It was widely reported that during UFC 251, 12 Gauge was entering the Octagon for the last fight on her existing contract.

On July 11, VanZant took on surging Amanda Ribas at flyweight and was finished in the first round by armbar. With the loss, 12 Gauge had officially fought out her UFC contract and she subsequently tested out free agency.

Many speculated that VanZant would end up at Bellator where her husband, welterweight Austin Vanderford, competes in.

That wasn’t the case, however, as 12 Gauge announced via Instagram on Wednesday that she had signed a deal with BKFC. VanZant is one of the biggest stars in mixed martial arts, crossing over into pop culture and appearing on television shows including Dancing with the Stars.

In the Instagram video, she said that she had just signed the BKFC contract that day. She announced the news with BKFC president David Feldman.

“I know this is going to be great Paige,” Feldman said to VanZant. “I love your resiliency, I love everything about the way you attack everything that you’re doing. We’re just going to enhance that and make you into a super-mega star.”

Neither Feldman nor 12 Gauge confirmed the date of her first fight with BKFC will be, but Feldman said that it may be in November. Watch the announcement below:

In a recent interview with MMA Fighting, VanZant said she wanted to fight as soon as possible.

“In my mind, I’m going to go ahead and delete that last fight and start over,” VanZant said. “I don’t know how long this negotiation stuff goes. I’m hoping quick, cause I definitely don’t have any injuries. I don’t even know if I got hit, so I’m ready to fight again.”

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After VanZant Lost at UFC 251, Dana White Said That She Should Test Out Free Agency

After VanZant lost to Ribas, UFC president Dana White said that 12 Gauge got “smoked” in the fight and that she should test out free agency. He said (transcribed by Talk Sport): “When you talk all that stuff, ‘I’m not being paid enough,’ and you’re fighting inconsistently, one time in the last year, [suffering] injuries, and then got smoked in the first round of the fight?”

He continued, “She should definitely test free agency.

In an interview with MMA Fighting, 12 Gauge spoke about White’s comment. She said, “Honestly, I didn’t actually see specifically the quote or what he said. I try not to pay attention too much. It’s unfortunate because I feel like I have a really good relationship with Dana.”

She continued, “I feel like I thought we were closer friends and he could text me or call me. Something to have a little bit of compassion, something to communicate with me personally but maybe he will. We just don’t know. I’m sure it’s an uncomfortable situation.”

VanZant Left Mixed Martial Arts With a Record of 8-5

VanZant fought a total of 13 professional mixed martial arts bouts, going 8-5 with two victories by KO or TKO and three by submission. 12 Gauge holds notable wins over the likes of Bec Rawlings and Felice Herrig.

VanZant told the outlet that Ribas locked in the armbar perfectly and that there was nothing else she could have done to escape it. She said, “She had it locked in perfect. There was nothing else I could have done. I tried to stack her, I tried to do all the escapes but she had tucked my arm and had my glove behind her. She just did it so perfectly.

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