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‘One more reason to hate on me’ - Ex-UFC star Paige VanZant signs with AEW in move to pro wrestling

Paige VanZant goes from MMA to bare knuckle boxing to pro wrestling.

UFC star Paige VanZant Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Paige VanZant is officially making her move to pro wrestling.

The former UFC star has had a few minor appearances in All Elite Wrestling shows for the past year, and now AEW President Tony Khan formally announced the signing on social media.

“It’s official!” Khan wrote on twitter. “Paige VanZant is ALL ELITE!”

Terms of the deal weren’t revealed, but VanZant also commented on the signing, saying that she just “wanted to give the world one more reason to hate on me.”

VanZant made an AEW appearance Wednesday night, coming out of the crowd to attack Tay Conti, before ceremoniously signing her new deal during the broadcast.

VanZant was with the UFC from 2014 to 2020, where she was heavily pushed and marketed from early on as a 20-year-old prospect. A stint as a finalist on Dancing With the Stars also raised her profile even further, with VanZant now having over 3 million followers on Instagram.

While VanZant ended her UFC stint with four losses to top contenders in her final six MMA bouts, she smartly parlayed that popularity and brand recognition into much more lucrative deals. She signed what was reported to be a massive deal with bare knuckle boxing promotion BKFC, while simultaneously running her far more lucrative fansite that features adult content.

VanZant dropped two decisions in her stint with BKFC, and there’s still no word about her status with the fight promotion now that she has signed with AEW.

The pro-wrestling move makes sense for the 27-year-old though. VanZant noted her fan site makes more than enough to support her full time, but this way, she still gets to grow her brand and maintain her status with the public eye, while ideally having more control and less brain trauma from fighting (and training) professionally.