A bombshell was dropped when Paige VanZant stated where she will be fighting next. Her contract with the UFC expiring, VanZant would sign with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship. With a $1 million deal, the promotion was proving they were all in on her.
Vanzant will look to prove herself before the year comes to an end. According to ESPN, VanZant will be making her BKFC debut in November. An opponent has yet to be determined.
“It tells people we’re serious,” BKFC President David Feldman told MMA Fighting. “We’re not out there throwing money around stupidly and making bad decisions. We spend money on things we think can help the company grow, and Paige VanZant, with 4 million followers on her social media accounts, can help us grow.”
Making her MMA debut in 2012, VanZant was signed by the UFC in 2013 to compete in the newly-created strawweight division. Beating Kailin Curran in her debut, VanZant would end up beating future BKFC champion Bec Rawlings in 2016. Her last fight was a submission win against Amanda Ribas at UFC 251 in July. Overall, “12 Gauge” was 5-4 with the UFC.
Injuries plagued the latter half of her run with the promotion. She suffered a broken arm at the hands of Jessica-Rose Clark in January 2018 and would fracture her arm not long after. It was rumored that VanZant was planning on undergoing one last arm surgery. Outside of the octagon, VanZant has a huge social media following and has appeared on various TV programs.
Feldman went on to say that VanZant will be competing in the 125-pound division. The two current champions for the promotion at featherweight are Rawlings (Police Gazette World) and Helen Peralta (Police Gazette American). He also stated that he signed about two-dozen female fighters to compete in the division.
“I think she was not set up in bad positions, but not set up in the perfect conditions in the past, and we’re going to set her up for success,” Feldman went on to say. “I can’t throw Paige into the lion’s den the first fight. We have to do something that’s going to get her comfortable with this, and then the competition is going to get stiffer. But at the beginning, I think it’s a great way to build her.”
BKFC has been around since 2018. VanZant was looking to expand her horizons after stating she made more working on other ventures compared to her run in the UFC. After getting offers from “five or six huge, solid promotions,” VanZant chose to sign with BKFC.