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Paige VanZant on Dana White’s comments: ‘I thought we were closer friends’

Paige VanZant seems to be learning that your promoter isn’t your friend.

Paige VanZant came back from a long layoff at UFC 251, losing the final bout on her contract with the promotion. Prior to the bout against rising star Amanda Ribas, VanZant spoke about wanting to test free agency as she didn’t feel like she was earning enough.

VanZant previously stated that a few weeks doing Dancing With the Stars paid her more than her entire six-year UFC career, and Dana White didn’t seem happy about those comments. The UFC President said that since she spoke about fighter pay then got “smoked,” VanZant should “definitely test free agency.”

The popular 26-year-old fighter, who is still in an exclusive negotiating period with the UFC, has since reacted to those comments.

“It’s unfortunate because I feel like I have a really good relationship with Dana,” VanZant told MMA Fighting. “I feel like I thought we were closer friends and he could text me or call me. Something to have a little bit of compassion, something to communicate with me personally but maybe he will. We just don’t know. I’m sure it’s an uncomfortable situation.

“Dana’s comments, what I’m hearing you say, he wants me to test free agency then hopefully they just let me go then,” VanZant said. “If that’s how they feel, then they’ll just let me be free.”

She also noted how UFC matchmaking changes for people trying to negotiate or are on the last fight of their contracts.

“This is the exact fight the UFC wanted. They kind of do this to people when they’re on the last fight on their contract. They give them, like, the perfect style matchup.” VanZant said.

“Obviously, it was the very toughest opponent they could give me for my one returning fight I had left. I didn’t play into what the UFC wanted. Of course, I still had confidence going into it. Amanda was so talented. I’m so excited to see where her career goes.”

VanZant maintains that she never actually spoke bad about the UFC, and there shouldn’t be bad blood or retaliation for wanting a raise.

“No matter where you work, if you feel you’re undervalued, there should be absolutely no shame in asking for a raise,” she said. “Especially if you’ve done your time and put your work in. I’ve been in the UFC for six years.

“I haven’t fought in 18 months. So I’ve made $46,000 in 18 months being [what] people have said is a UFC star. I just feel like there’s more out there for me.”

It seems like VanZant is learning what many fighters have already experienced: just because a promoter was nice to you, it doesn’t mean you’re really friends.