Paige VanZant is set to test the MMA free agency market after the final fight of her UFC contract ended in very inglorious fashion.
Brazilian flyweight Amanda Ribas kicked off UFC 251’s main card on Sunday with a first-round armbar submission victory over VanZant.
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Ribas (10-1) improved to 4-0 in the UFC with a swift dismantling of the popular VanZant (8-5), whose UFC contract is up after four losses in her last six bouts.
In her first fight in well over a year, VanZant didn’t even make it out of the first round.
Following her recent comments about how underpaid she is in UFC, boss Dana White issued a scathing parting shot.
“I like Paige,” White said during his post-UFC 251 press conference.
“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.”
And renowned MMA writer Kevin Iole was just as scathing.
“Paige VanZant, who is increasingly becoming known more for being Austin Vanderford’s wife rather than anything she’s done in the cage, was mauled by Amanda Ribas and submitted in the first,” Iole wrote.
Paige VanZant intent on getting her money’s worth
But VanZant, who many think will soon step away from MMA to start a family, is intent on finding her true worth.
The social media star, who boasts some 2.6 million followers online, makes way more money on Instagram and from an appearance on ‘Dancing with the Stars’.
“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,” she told UFC recently.
“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 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.
“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.”
Paige VanZant’s next career move
Rumours are now swirling about VanZant’s next career move, with Bellator (where husband Vanderford fights) and WWE potential landing spots.
“I also think the WWE is an amazing organisation and it’s a very athletic entertainment industry which would suit me,” she said previously.
“There’s probably huge potential for a crossover down the line and of course I’m a big fan of what they do, so it would be great to be a part of.”
And a career in Hollywood isn’t out of the question.
“There’s this conversation that I would have a short career, that Hollywood would be calling my name,” Paige previously told the South China Morning Post.
“Of course they are, but as a fighter, my passion is to compete, and that’s what I’m going to do until that passion is no longer there.”
But family is also at the forefront of her mind.
VanZant has been treating her fans to a unique insight into her home life with Vanderford, posting a number of risque photos online as the couple enjoyed the coronavirus lockdown in the buff.
“It is fun for me. I do love what I do but it has to be worth it for your future, for your career, for your family,“ she said.
“For being a woman, I want to be a mum, too. There’s a time frame on that.
“My career, yes I can come back after having kids but there’s other factors like I need make enough money to be able to take time off and have kids.”