clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Paige VanZant hasn’t ‘looked back’ on UFC tenure: ‘Everything has just gotten better’

The former UFC star is having such a good experience with bare-knuckle fighting that a return to mixed martial arts is unlikely right now. 

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Paige VanZant is too focused on her future with BKFC to reflect on her past with the UFC.

Most of her professional career was spent fighting under the UFC banner, where VanZant quickly became a household name for her performances inside of the Octagon and on Dancing On The Stars. Her wins over Kailin Curan, Felice Herrig and Bec Rawlings were just some of the highlights that made ’12 Gauge’ the must-see fighter that she is, but her time with the promotion was finite. After a six-year stint with the UFC, VanZant opted to test free agency and ended up signing a multi-fight deal with BKFC shortly after her departure.

Now, nearly a year after making her decision, VanZant maintains that it was the best one she has made thus far and has not looked back at her UFC days since.

“No, I haven’t looked back,” VanZant told Danny Segura of MMA Junkie. “Honestly, I feel like you take those moments when you look back on your life is because there might be something better in the past, but since I’ve left, my future and everything has just gotten better and better every single second.

“I’m so excited to be with BKFC,” continued VanZant. “I love boxing. I love my new gym. I love everybody I train with. There’s nothing in the past that I miss and I always wondered, ‘Would I miss the UFC?’ and I don’t. I don’t miss it at all. I love being here, I love boxing. My life has changed in all the best ways possible.”

VanZant made her bare-knuckle fighting debut earlier this year at BKFC: KnuckleMania, where she lost to Britain Hart by way of unanimous decision. Her first outing may not have gone as planned, but now that she has the experience inside of the ring, she feels a lot better going into her upcoming fight with Rachael Ostovich at BKFC 19 this Friday. And the more experience she gains, the more VanZant feels like a potential return to mixed martial arts is unlikely right now.

VanZant kept that door open in case an opportunity arose, but it seems as though it is slowly closing as she is content with placing all of her chips in the proverbial bare-knuckle fighting basket.

“It’s getting further and further away,” said VanZant. “Honestly, I feel like that’s a big part of my past that the door might be closed. I never like to say it because who knows, but right now I’m really loving just straight boxing.

“I feel like we see a lot of fighters retire, right? And they either retire off of a win or they retire off of a loss. You don’t want retire off a loss because you want to go out on top, but if you retire off a win, why would you retire if you’re still winning? So, there’s so many questions that you have. I’m never gonna say its over for me in MMA, but I just love the position I’m in right now.”

BKFC 19 takes place on Friday, July 23 in Tampa, FL at the Florida State Fairgrounds.