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VanZant flattered and ‘thankful’ for Rousey comparisons

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Rising UFC strawweight Paige VanZant offered her thoughts on the comparisons being made between her and bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Not only did UFC superstar Ronda Rousey prove to be the sole reason behind the addition of female division to the UFC's roster, but she has already assumed the part of role model for rising stars looking to fill her shoes.

That appears to be the case with young strawweight Paige VanZant, who recounted her first nervous encounter with Rousey at a Reebok photo shoot.

"When I first met her, I was nervous, I was like ‘she's Ronda Rousey,' at a Reebok photo shoot," VanZant said. "I saw her walk in and she turned around and shook my hand and gave me a compliment on my last fight. I didn't really know what else to say other than "hey.'"

VanZant, 3-0 in the UFC, already deals with comparisons with the reigning bantamweight queen. While young and raw in terms of her skill set, VanZant has proven to be an intriguing draw for the UFC. She is also highly marketable, as is evident by her individual endorsement contract from Reebok. Only a handful of fighters were selected for those contracts.

While VanZant is flattered by the comparisons, she stated that she is far from ready to fill Rousey's enormous shoes.

"It's much of a compliment for people to even say that, and they're huge shoes to fill, but I have a long way before I can make that comparison," VanZant said. "But, I'm thankful that people see that. I definitely want to follow in her footsteps. She's opened great doors for women in all athletics, and especially the UFC and MMA."

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