Who Is Paige VanZant Of ‘Dancing With The Stars’ Season 22?

Paige VanZant will be competing for a new title this spring, as she is one of the Season 22 contestants for Dancing With the Stars. While Paige’s fans know all about her, many of the DWTS viewers will probably find themselves needing a bit of background information on this new contestant. Just what is the scoop on this new competitor?

According to PureDWTS, Paige VanZant will be dancing with Mark Ballas this spring. Many Dancing with the Stars fans are very excited about this partnership and think that this could be a pair to keep an eye on this spring. Season 22 will be an intensely competitive one, with fellow contestants like Jodie Sweetin, Von Miller, Doug Flutie, and Ginger Zee, but Paige and Mark certainly have the makings of a fierce duo.

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Paige VanZant is a 21-year-old mixed martial artist who battles via the Ultimate Fighting Championship. She has been a professional since 2012 and this Dayton, Oregon, native currently competes in the strawweight division. While VanZant’s focus may be on MMA right now, she grew up dancing as her parents owned a studio, notes Awakening Fighters.

This new Dancing with the Stars contestant may have spent a lot of time dancing as a kid, but as the Reno Gazette-Journal details, Paige was a big tomboy growing up, too. Her younger days were filled with fishing, hunting, and riding bikes, spending much of her time outside.

VanZant was bullied quite a bit by girls at school in her youth and the family moved to Nevada when she was in high school. When Paige couldn’t find a good dance studio there, her father suggested that she try fighting, something she had done casually with neighbor kids in Oregon. It did not take long for her to excel in the sport.

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Just two years after falling in love with mixed martial arts, VanZant had her first amateur fight. Things went so well that she went pro just a couple of months later and she has grown plenty of self-confidence as a result of her love for the sport. Paige started fighting with Invicta FC and moved to Sacramento, California, to train more seriously. It was there that she was contacted by the UFC team and swooped away.

Paige was supposed to compete on Fox Sports’ The Ultimate Fighter, but she was too young to participate and as Bleacher Report detailed, she ended up signing on directly with the UFC to begin competing without going through the reality show first. VanZant has done some modeling outside the ring as well and she has certainly made quite the impression on those who follow MMA.

VanZant goes by the nickname “12 Gauge” and she has compiled an impressive record since joining the UFC. Given her success, it is safe to say that she has an intense work ethic, and when coupled with her dance background and big fan base, she could be a mirror ball contender with Ballas by her side.

As Dancing with the Stars fans know, Mark Ballas has taken many spins around the DWTS dance floor, as he has been a pro every season since Season 5 where he debuted with Sabrina Bryan. Ballas has won the mirror ball trophy twice, with Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Johnson, and he finished second with Sadie Robertson and third three times, with Bristol Palin, Chelsea Kane, and Candace Cameron Bure. Could this be the season for his third mirror ball trophy win?

Season 22 of Dancing with the Stars will be a very competitive one, with a handful of professional athletes and former child stars in the hunt for the win. Could Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas be the spring 2016 champions of the mix, or will another couple steal away the win?

[Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images]