There was a point in time when Paige VanZant was one of the rising stars in the UFC and MMA as a whole. But in 2020, she chose to leave mixed martial arts to sign a lucrative contract with Bare Knuckle FC.
“12 Gauge” also earns money from her fansite, which she says pays more than both her BKFC and UFC contracts combined. And given her current financial state, the 27-year-old feels she’s now set for life.
“I could retire tomorrow and be financially free, and my kids would be pretty close to being financially free,” VanZant said recently on MMAFighting.com’s The Fighter vs. The Writer.
VanZant did credit the UFC for allowing her to be a household name in her own right.
“I’m fortunate enough, I did build my name up,” VanZant said. “I know how hard I worked in the UFC and I know how much dedication I had. I did all the appearances nobody else wanted to do. I traveled the world. Every weekend, I was in a different state doing appearances.
“I was fortunate enough, I did have that grind mentality to build my name up. I did social media, ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ really did what I could to build myself as a business and as a brand.
“So then when my contract ended with the UFC, I was able to go out there and be fortunate enough to sign with BKFC. They offered me a great contract. It opened the doors to all these other things that I wasn’t really able to do when I was with the UFC.”
That then begs one question: would Paige VanZant entertain the idea of possibly returning to the UFC? This was her response:
“Of course, I love the UFC. I love the organization. There’s a reason they are as successful as they are. There’s a reason they were able to get to this level. They have a well-oiled machine and they’re very, very good at it,” she said of her former employers.
“But I know in my heart that I will never fight for them again, just because they don’t pay enough. I don’t see the benefit of going back to the UFC. Right now, I’m fortunate enough, I built myself up to a specific place and I can take that and use it wherever I go.”
In September, VanZant did mention the idea of a potential MMA return under Bellator. But just two weeks ago, she inked a deal with All-Elite Wrestling for her pro wrestling debut, so it looks like that ship has sailed.
As for her bare-knuckle boxing career, PVZ is 0-2. Her last fight took place in July at BKFC 19 against fellow ex-UFC alum Rachael Ostovich, where she lost via unanimous decision.