‘Dancing With The Stars’: Top Contenders Paige VanZant And Von Miller On What They Bring To The Competition

Dancing with the Stars Season 22 premieres tonight, and the odds on favorites are both athletes — Paige VanZant and Von Miller. Paige, 21, competes in the Women’s Strawweight Division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Von, 26, is a linebacker for the Denver Broncos and was selected the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl 50. All eyes will be watching them and other athletes closely on tonight’s Dancing with the Stars premiere, because athletes have fared well in previous years of the dance competition.

As Dancing with the Stars viewers will see, VanZant and Miller have agility on their side. Von Miller is famous for his end-zone dances, but it takes a whole other set of skills to perform well on DWTS. And Paige VanZant may have the footwork to dodge her opponent in the cage, but will she have the skill to pull off a graceful dance performance on Dancing With the Stars? All eyes will be watching when the premiere airs.

ABC has aired interviews with some of this year’s Dancing with the Stars celebrity competitors, VanZant and Miller among them. They covered things viewers will likely keep in mind as they choose their favorites while watching the premiere on ABC at 8 p.m. They talked about challenges they face in their Dancing with the Stars training among many other things.

Paige VanZant has been paired with Dancing with the Stars pro Mark Ballas. He’ll strut his stuff on the premiere with hopes that the weeks of hard work with Paige will pay off. Mark has won the Dancing with the Stars competition twice — once with Kristi Yamaguchi in Season 6 and again with Shawn Johnson in Season 8. Both of those winners were female athletes like Paige. But as a figure skater and a gymnast, respectively, they brought a different set of skills to Dancing with the Stars.

In an ABC Dancing with the Stars interview with VanZant and Ballas, the two talk about challenges they face going into the premiere and the rest of the season, as well as some of the hopes they have for this year’s DWTS. Paige joked about how working on her Dancing with the Stars routine with Mark is different from working with a partner on her fighting skills.

“I’m so used to, when I do have training partners, I’m punching them in the face or I’m throwing them or it’s like, it’s a violent sport.”

Probably not something viewers of the Dancing with the Stars want to see in their premiere performance. So what are some of the specific things Ballas has worked with Paige on?

“I think the main thing is going to be posture, just because from fighting school, you’re naturally just here and the chin is tucked and you can’t put your head because you’re going to get popped, you know. So getting the shoulders back, a little loose up here, a little more fluid in this area so it’s not so placed. And then just gotta get that chin up.”

Will Paige be able to loosen up and raise that chin in the Dancing with the Stars premiere? Time will tell.

Dancing with the Stars pro Witney Carson has been putting Von Miller through the paces in preparation for the season premiere. Witney was the Dancing with the Stars Season 19 champion with Alfonso Ribeiro. Von is her first athlete partner. In their ABC interview, Von talked about his competitive nature.

“I’m super competitive. I want to win. I just didn’t come here to just dance around and, you know, smile or something. I want to win. That’s what it’s about… When I’m into something, I’m all the way into it and I can tell she’s the same way.”

That competitive nature is a great asset in Dancing with the Stars. It’s probably one of the things that usually makes athletes successful on the show. It’s sure to shine through in the premiere show tonight.

What does Miller think are his obstacles coming into Dancing with the Stars?

“I don’t believe there will be too many obstacles. You’ve got to look at it with a positive mind. What is work? What is work? What is practice? You’ve got to change your mindset about it. when you change the way you look at it, that’s when you can be very, very effective. That’s when you really fall in love with your craft.”

That’s a great way to look at it! We can’t wait to see what Von shows us on the Dancing with the Stars premiere.

[Photos by Bryan Steffy and Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]