Paige VanZant never intended to become an MMA fighter, but now the 20-year-old is on the cusp of becoming a UFC star and could eventually unseat Ronda Rousey as the league’s premiere female fighter.
VanZant, who makes UFC debut this Saturday in Austin, Texas, against Kailin Curran, never intended to end up as a MMA superstar. The Nevada native said she took up fighting as a 15-year-old “more out of boredom than anything.”
“I started with boxing, and my coaches told me I had a lot of potential, and that I should consider making it a career. I was like, ‘Whatever,'” recalls VanZant in an interview with Fox Sports.
“I was just 15 at the time, and I never imagined something like that. When I turned 18, they asked if I would take a fight and I said, ‘Yeah.’ I won it and all of the sudden, there was all this interest and all these opportunities. I had just one amateur fight, then my coach got a call for a pro fight for me. I thought about it and said, ‘If I’d fight anyway, I might as well get paid for it.’ ”
It wasn’t long before Paige VanZant rose to the top, moving to Las Vegas and then eventually Sacramento to train with top teams.
“When I fought Tecia Tores I finally came to the realization how much of a mental game fighting is,” VanZant said of her only professional loss. “I have always been mentally focused and prepared before each fight except my fight against her, and it really showed. I know now to never step into the cage unless the only thing on my mind is how i am going to destroy my opponent.”
VanZant’s star appears bright out of the cage as well. She narrowly missed her television debut earlier this year — because she is underage, Paige wasn’t able to appear on The Ultimate Fighter due to the chance of alcohol in the house — but many believe she will be able to rival Ronda Rousey when it comes to crossover success. VanZant’s fighting website already has a section for modeling information and photos, along with contact information for potential booking agents.
[Paige VanZant photo via 12gaugepaigevanzant.com]