Paige VanZant has described her decision to leave the UFC as nerve-wracking, but ultimately the best decision she ever made.
VanZant left the UFC after a six-year stint last August when she signed a reported multi-million deal with BKFC. Frequent injuries plagued VanZant during her UFC career, so when ‘12 Gauge’ fought out of her contract after being defeated by Amanda Ribas last July, it was time to take the risk and seek options elsewhere.
“For me, I was a free agent at 26 years old. I was really young. It was nerve-wracking to know you’re leaving the powerhouse of combat sports. But now I know it was the best decision I’ve ever made,” VanZant told MMA Fighting. “Since I’ve left, I’ve seen multiple fighters leave the UFC — and it’s not a diss at the UFC necessarily, but I think it’s more an awakening in fighters knowing there’s money out there and we’re going to be compensated for what we’re doing.”
In addition to her lucrative deal with BKFC, VanZant launched her own fan site in February in which subscribers pay for exclusive content. The site has been a great success, as VanZant revealed she makes more money from subscription fees in a month than her entire contract with BKFC.
“I’m sharing what I’m comfortable with,” VanZant said. “I’m sharing as much as I want to. It’s my website. It’s my experience. It is for the fans. I’ve had so many people ask me to do something like this, the exclusive content site and it’s a place where I can communicate one-on-one with absolutely every single one of my subscribers, and I can’t do that on Instagram. I have nearly 3 million followers on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and all these other things.
“I will say when I signed with BKFC, the bare-knuckle boxing, I was making more money than I had made in my entire UFC career. Now I’m making more money than my entire BKFC contract in like a month. It’s pretty crazy.”
The 27-year-old says she is financially secure thanks to her fan site.
“I don’t have to, when I’m done fighting, get a regular job and have to go back to work,” VanZant said. “I’m not planning for when I retire to go to college or try to figure out what’s next in my life. I’m able to just fight and save money and plan when I want to retire, I can just retire.”
VanZant is expected to face former UFC flyweight Rachael Ostovich at BKFC 19 on July 23.