An interview with Paige VanZant
Like the rest of the fight community, Paige VanZant had been waiting excitedly and patiently for the TUF 20 filming to start. Recently the UFC made a shocking announcement that Paige would not in fact be entering the show. She turned 20 a couple of weeks ago, and the minimum age is 21 for The Ultimate Fighter. Whilst this news is not pleasant for either Paige or her fans, it's not all doom and gloom. Paige is still signed to the UFC Strawweight roster and simply has to wait it out before the Strawweights make their debut later this year.
We decided to grab Paige and get her thoughts on all things UFC, and just have a general chat… after all, who doesn't like Paige!
Hi Paige, thanks for taking the time out to chat to us! So this recent news about being omitted from the show. You've known for a while right? What was it like living with such a huge bombshell and what positives can you take from this unfortunate turn of events?
“When I initially found out that I wasn't on the show I was really bummed. Working with the coaches that are going to be in the house would have been an amazing experience, and the chance to get the UFC belt was a chance of a life time. But now I am looking at the situation much more positively. I am signed to the UFC and I don’t have to go through all of the drama that comes with being on the Ultimate Fighter. I also don’t have to worry about making weight over and over again. It’s a weight lifted off my shoulders. And I am sure that the UFC will help build my name up now that I don’t get all of the exposure from being on the TV show. The fact that I had to keep all of this on the down low was terrible. I was constantly being asked about the show and just would nod and agree as to not give anything away. Then Urijah went and opened his sexy mouth and spilled the beans about me not being in the house. But it’s all in the open now and I am very happy about that.”
It's rumoured that you will be fighting this year, do you have any idea of the date as of yet… or is this something you have to keep quiet?
“As of right now, nothing has been decided. I have an idea of when I will be fighting, but of course that is on the down low.”
Fighting for the UFC is obviously the dream of every MMA fighter, what does it mean for you to have the opportunity at such a young age?
“I am honored that I get to say that I was a signed UFC fighter by the time I was 19. I have worked very hard for this and I have given up a lot in my life to pursue this dream. It means the world for me that I get to show off my talents in the UFC, but it also means that I have a lot more work to do.”
In your opinion, how does the UFC's new stance on female fighters affect the sport of MMA?
“I believe the biggest way that women are affecting MMA is by making it more desirable to watch. Women fight with emotion, that is what makes their fights so exciting.”
Paige VanZant. Photo Credit: Mike Calimars.
Looking at the other fighters in the UFC Strawweight division now, who do you personally feel would be a good match up?
“I don’t like to call out fighters. I think that the UFC will do an amazing job matching me up, and I will be prepared for whoever they give me.”
An off topic question now, you're trained in gymnastics and dance, can you tell us how and why you transitioned from those into fighting?
“I get asked this question a lot. And the more that I think about it, I believe that fate brought me to MMA. I moved from small town where my parents owned a dance studio. I grew up dancing and when I moved to a scary town like Reno I was nervous and bored. My dad had been a fan of Ken Shamrock and found out that his gym was in Reno. So he asked me to try a class for fun and I ended up falling in love with fighting. It was my escape from the rest of my crazy life.”
Are you still a Dance Instructor, or has being plucked by the UFC put that on a back seat?
“As of right now I am focusing only on fighting. I occasionally do workshops with some of the studios that I used to teach at, but my goals are set in the UFC so I’m not letting anything take time away from my training.”
Well on that note we better let you go! Thanks for taking the time out to speak to us Paige, we really appreciate it. We wish you all the best and hope to grab you again for another interview as your year progresses. We’ll hand over the last word to you :)... GO!
“Thank you so much to everyone who has helped me get to where I am today. :)”