Paige VanZant has opened up about her decision to test the MMA free agency market, saying she earned more from ‘Dancing with the Stars’ than her entire UFC career.
With her current UFC contract about to expire, VanZant is determined to grab herself a better deal - even if that means joining a rival company.
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The 25-year-old’s bout against Amanda Ribas at UFC 251 on July 11 is the final fight of her contract, and VanZant isn’t content for an extension.
“I have my heart set and nobody is going to change my mind that I’m fighting my contract out,” she recently told ESPN.
“I’ve been with the UFC for six years now, and through this time I’m still – which is crazy – on the same contract before I fought Rose [Namajunas] at 22-years-old, and I’m 26 now.
“I just feel like a regular extension isn’t what I want. I want to prove my worth and my value and I want a brand new contract.
“I’m really excited to get the opportunity and really test the free agency because how do you know what your value is unless you can go test it among the other sharks?”
Some reports claim VanZant, who appeared on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ in America in 2016, could be worth around $3 million because of her burgeoning social media prescence - amassing some 2.5 million followers on Instagram alone.
But VanZant claims she earns just $46,000 (US) per fight in the UFC, with another $46,000 added if she wins.
“I’m not going to hide that because everyone knows. I can make way more money than that just promoting brands on Instagram, and that should say something,” she said.
“Why would I step away from all the amazing success that I have? I made more money from ‘Dancing with the Stars’ than I have in my entire UFC career combined – every fight, every win, every bonus.
“Nothing matters to me except this fight and it’s a clean slate for me. I'm just excited to go out there and prove my value to absolutely everybody. And I think that fighting is how I do that.”
VanZant to take part in UFC Fight Island
VanZant will take on Ribas on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island - dubbed ‘Fight Island’ by the UFC.
Yas Island, which occupies 25 square kilometres, is a tourist attraction that has hosted Formula One's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2009. It is located 15 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The UFC has been touting Fight Island for weeks as a place to bring its international fighters who face travel restrictions getting to the US because of the pandemic.
UFC plans four events on Yas Island: UFC 251 featuring three title fights on July 11 followed by three televised events on July 15, 18 and 25.
UFC president Dana White told ESPN that the UFC 251 main event will pit featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski against former title-holder Max Holloway.
Other fights on the pay-per-view card will see Kamaru Usman defend his welterweight title against Gilbert Burns, Petr Yan face Jose Aldo for the vacant bantamweight title, Rose Namajunas against Jessica Andrade and VanZant against Ribas.
with Associated Press