Strawweight fighter Paige VanZant is down to the last fight in her contract. And at this point in her career, the 26-year-old fighter is looking to test the waters outside the UFC.
As she heads into free agency, “12 Gauge” feels she has a lot of leverage to wield.
“There hasn’t been that many big free agents. There’s literally, like, a handful,” VanZant told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani. “Like, huge free agents to leave the UFC, and I do, I consider myself one of those. I maybe had a rocky last two years with breaking my arm so many times, but it’ll be a big deal, I’ll be coming off two wins, and I feel really good to test the waters.”
VanZant’s next assignment will be against the streaking Amanda Ribas at UFC 251 on July 11. Win or lose, she already feels she’s done enough to boost her name value.
“I feel like every fight I go into, I put the same amount of pressure on myself,” she said. “I think this is another one of those situations. Before I fought Felice Herrig, everyone had kind of counted me out because I had way less experience. I kind of went in there, like, I’m gonna go prove myself.
“And I feel like I have that exact same feeling going into this fight. It’s just I want to prove myself, I want to prove how good I am, how hard I’ve worked.
“The pressure isn’t higher. I do truly feel like my value doesn’t change,” VanZant continued. “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 that I’m not gonna go out there and fight to die. This fight matters to me more than any fight in my entire life. I’m willing to put it all out there.”
In the same interview, VanZant revealed having the same exact contract she signed five years ago, and the only way she re-signs with the UFC is if she gets a brand new one.