Former UFC star Paige VanZant is making her promotional debut with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) on Friday at “KnuckleMania” in Tampa, Florida, but the 26-year-old American revealed to Heavy she’s more worried about the media’s fixation with her face being cut than she is about her upcoming opponent Britain Hart.
“It’s definitely weird,” VanZant said about that persistent storyline.
— Kelsey McCarson (@kelsey_mccarson) February 3, 2021
While VanZant admitted there’s a better chance she could get cut in a bare-knuckle boxing bout than her 13 previous MMA fights, she also said the bigger risk in her mind would not be fighting for BKFC at all.
“Any career you go into, there’s an element of risk. I’m either risking my face, my body, and my hands in a fight, or I could risk wasting my entire life just going to a job that I don’t like and a career I don’t want to be a part of. That risk to me is so much worse,” VanZant said.
VanZant said she’s happy to go after the life she wants, and risking a cut here or there was totally worth it.
“Life is so short. I’m okay fighting for 10 minutes to live the dream I’ve always dreamed,” VanZant said.
VanZant Made More Money Modeling Than in UFC
To be completely fair, the media’s fixation with VanZant’s face isn’t entirely without merit.
In addition to being a full-time professional prizefighter, VanZant also works as a model. She has over 2.7 million followers on Instagram, and she told ESPN last year she actually made way more money from her social media channels than did as a UFC fighter.
“I make way more money sitting at home, posting pictures on Instagram, than I do fighting.”@paigevanzant says her endorsement earnings greatly outpace her fight earnings (via @arielhelwani) pic.twitter.com/dpdANFcbxU
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) August 26, 2019
VanZant has also appeared as a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars”, and the model/author/actress revealed to ESPN last year when she signed with BKFC that she wanted to prove she was more than “just a pretty face”.
“I feel like I still have this stigma in MMA that I’m just a pretty face, and what a way to prove to people that’s not the way I see myself at all,” VanZant said per ESPN.
“This is a sport where people probably have the highest rate of getting cut open and having long-term scars is definitely something that I’m not even worried about for me. It’s just the love of competition and I’m really excited to go out there and show off in such an amazing sport.”
So maybe it makes sense that so many people keep asking her about getting cut to shreds on Friday when she fights without gloves on her fists for the first time in her career.
More importantly, of course, her opponent won’t be wearing gloves either.
How VanZant Got Ready for BKFC FIght
To her credit, VanZant said she’ll be entering her BKFC boxing debut as prepared as she can be for whatever happens on fight night.
“I have a lot of confidence coming into this. MMA gloves, especially in the smaller weight classes, they say the gloves are four ounces, but my husband is a professional MMA fighter and his gloves are way bigger than mine,” VanZant said.
So VanZant expects the six years she spent competing in the UFC women’s flyweight division to have paid off.
“Knowing I can take a punch from those small gloves, it is pretty similar I think to getting hit with no gloves on,” VanZant said.
Additionally, VanZant said she’s been preparing for her fight in a way she’s never done before. VanZant has spent ample time hitting the heavy bag and her coach’s mitts without gloves on her hands.
“It’s more just to know mentally how it feels to his something without gloves on. I’ve been punching things for like 10 years. I know my hands are ready for it,” VanZant said.
MMA, Boxing and More Could Be ‘In The Works’
VanZant is thrilled to have signed with the BKFC, but she’s also been excited to field all the other offers she’s been getting since she signed with the company.
“It’s just amazing to be partnered with a company that would allow that to happen. They also know the more I do, the more successful I become, the better it is for them. Ultimately, I’m a representation of BKFC. I’m here to represent their company,” VanZant said.
The fighter believes some things are “in the works”.
“Since I’ve signed with BKFC, I’ve had MMA organizations and straight boxing organizations all reach out and offer good contracts for me to do one-off fights. I’m a combat sports athlete. I’m here to compete,” VanZant said.
No matter the ruleset, VanZant said she’s down to rumble wherever and however.
“If the right opportunity presents itself, I see myself definitely taking fights in MMA, boxing, jiu-jitsu or anything,” VanZant said.
YouTube: Real Talk with Kelsey and Rachel