Former UFC superstar Paige VanZant has stunned her fans after making the move to the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship after revealing she wanted a new challenge.
VanZant became the talk of the MMA world during lockdown with her series of naked photos with fighter husband Austin Vanderford.
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But her popularity and success on social media didn’t translate across to the octagon, after a quick loss to Brazilian flyweight Amanda Ribas at UFC 251’s main card via a first-round armbar submission.
With four losses in her last six fights and her time up with the UFC, the 26-year-old publicly stated her desire for a better contract (even if it meant leaving UFC), prompting a brutal parting shot from boss Dana White.
And it turns out VanZant has found that new challenge, all be it a gritty one.
VanZant posted to her Instagram that she had signed a contract for the BKFC.
“I could not be more excited to finally share this news. Today is day one on my new crazy journey,” she wrote on Instagram.
“Thank you so much to @bareknucklefc for brining me onto the team. LETS MAKE MAGIC!”
Just spoke to @paigevanzant, who confirmed she signed a multi-fight, multi-million dollar deal w/ BKFC. She is very happy:— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) August 12, 2020
"I feel like I still have this stigma in MMA that I'm just a pretty face, and what a way to prove to be people that's not the way I see myself at all.”
ESPN first reported the news with VanZant saying she wanted to prove her doubters wrong.
"I feel like I still have this stigma in MMA that I'm just a pretty face, and what a way to prove to be people that's not the way I see myself at all,” VanZant told ESPN MMA reporter Ariel Helwani .
She also said she hadn’t closed the door on a potential return to the UFC in the future.
Fans were rightly excited and stunned at the news.
Holy cow.— Marcus Whitney (@marcuswhitney) August 12, 2020
Dana White slams Paige VanZant
This is despite a brutal parting show from UFC boss White when she claimed her contract was worth more.
Some say VanZant could be worth around $3 million because of her burgeoning social media presence.
But VanZant revealed she earns just $46,000 (US) per fight in the UFC, with another $46,000 added if she wins.
But White was having none if it
“When you talk all that stuff, 'I'm not being paid enough,' and fighting inconsistently, one time in the last year, injuries, and then got smoked in the first round of the fight, she should definitely test free agency,” he said after UFC 251.