Paige VanZant Discusses Her Future Plans Ahead Of UFC 251

UFC Paige VanZant
Image courtesy of Essentially Sports

Paige VanZant has become one of the most successful mixed martial artists outside the Octagon, in recent years. Aside from competing in arguably MMA’s top promotion, the 26 year old has also enjoyed various media appearances in shows such as Chopped and Dancing With The Stars.

Despite large periods of inactivity between fights due to a repeated arm injury, VanZant’s stock has been consistently on the rise in the past few years. The success out of the MMA circle has granted the Oregon-born athlete a massive following on social media with over 300,000 followers on Twitter and 2.5 million followers on Instagram.

With other streams of revenue aside from the sport, VanZant states that fighting has become more of a test of character and skill than a job. With only one fight left in her UFC contract, talks have circulated the MMA media outlets about the star’s future in mixed martial arts.

Although not motivated by monetary compensations for her next bout, ’12 Gauge’ is determined to put it all on the line against Amanda Ribas at UFC 251 on July 11th.

VanZant spoke to ESPN‘s Ariel Helwani about how she faces her next challenge in Ribas, who is coming off a win against Randa Markos at UFC Brasilia.

“I want to prove myself,” VanZant said. “I want to prove how good I am. I know how hard I’ve worked. So, no, the pressure isn’t higher, and I do truly feel my value doesn’t change, whether I win or lose. I still have set myself up for success, and I will still forever be Paige VanZant, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to go out there and fight to die. This fight matters more to me than any fight in my entire life. I’m willing to put it all out there.”

With many of the top names in the UFC demanding increased pay from the organisation, it seemed inevitable for VanZant to also target more substantial earnings on the break of a new contract. Although not as accomplished in the sport as Jon Jones or Jorge Masvidal, the flyweight does generate a considerable hype within mainstream fans.

VanZant also assured fans that her contract has been the same since she was signed to the UFC roster as a 22-year-old. Considering that she earns more in her business ventures away from fighting sports, it is no surprise that ’12 Gauge’ is looking for a contract renegotiation rather than a contract extension. The ATT Portland team member indicates that, regardless of the future, she is not intimidated by the possibility of becoming a free agent.

“I just feel like a regular extension isn’t what I want, and I want to prove my worth and my value — and I want a brand-new contract,” said VanZant. “And I’m really excited to get that opportunity and really test the free agency because how do you know what your value is unless you can go test it amongst all the other sharks?”

Regardless of her future’s uncertainty, VanZant remains focused on the tough opponent that will stand across the cage in her next contest. ’12 Gauge’ has decreased her social media activity in the last few weeks and states that her main priority is displaying her skills against Ribas.

Following a set of mixed results inside the Octagon, VanZant believes that the best way to prove her worth in front of fans and critics is by fighting.

“I haven’t posted anything on Instagram,” she said. “Nothing matters to me except for this fight, and it’s a clean slate for me. I’m just excited to go out there and prove my value to absolutely everybody. And I think that fighting is how I do that.”

Despite being better known for her media personality in recent times, VanZant was once regarded as one of female MMA’s most exciting prospects. Now, with an evermore focused ’12 Gauge’, fans can only hope that the flyweight will finally reach the greatness she was set to have inside the main stage of the sport.

How do you think Paige VanZant will perform against Amanda Ribas at UFC 251?

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