Paige VanZant opens up about decision to leave Team Alpha Male and move back to Portland

Paige VanZant was last seen in the octagon back in December, being submitted by Michelle Waterson by way of a rear-naked choke in the first round. The fight was the main event of UFC on Fox 22.

VanZant is working heavily on her Jiu-Jitsu game.

The loss was a tough one for the 23-year-old but VanZant is eager to get back in the cage quickly. In fact, “12 Gauge” plans on showing a different version of herself when she finally returns to competition. She no longer trains at Team Alpha Male, she has instead decided to move back to Portland in order to train closer to her family.

The former Dancing With The Stars contestant opened up in a recent interview with MMA Fighting.

It was a really tough loss, it was really hard on me, but, actually, for the most part, I’m getting used to training with a new fight camp,” VanZant told MMA Fighting. “I moved back to Portland, Oregon, to be with family, so I guess I’m taking some time to adjust to a new fight team and a new gym for my upcoming fight.”

VanZant was coming off a brutal knockout victory over Bec Rawlings prior to her defeat to Waterson, but explains that her decision to move closer to her family was already made prior to the loss

I was just kind of planning it already,” VanZant said. “My whole family is from Portland, I just always had it on my mind that I wanted to be back around family, and it was just a perfect time for me to start over and train with a new camp and be around a huge support and finally have family in my life again.”

Back in Portland, VanZant is now training alongside Bellator star Chael Sonnen and working very closely with his jiu-jitsu coach Fabiano “Pega-Leve” Scherner.

Me and Chael Sonnen have the same management team. I’ve been friends with Chael for a while,” VanZant said. “I knew he was in Portland and he had a really successful fight team out in Portland. I just called him and he really took me under his wing, he set me up with a great MMA gym, which is Gracie Barra with Fabiano, and he also set me up with an amazing conditioning program, Dave. Chael really took me under his wing and set me up with everything I needed.

I definitely do (feel a better fighter). I can see myself growing. Training with Fabiano, he has some of the best jiu-jitsu I’ve ever had in my life, so I can definitely see the difference in my fight game because of him. I can already tell I’m getting a lot better. It’s really cool to be working with someone so positive and so talented like he is.”

VanZant believes that working with Scherner will take her jiu-jitsu to another level and prevent the result of her last fight from ever happening again.

I knew I had aspects of my fight game that I needed to work on,” VanZant said. “With every fight I try to earn from my mistakes, and even in my wins I try to learn from the areas that I messed up on.”

VanZant’s next UFC fight still hasn’t been decided, but she is already discussing it with the company. “12 Gauge”, who is number 11 in the official UFC strawweight rankings”, is hoping to face someone above her in order to get back into the top ten.

I’ll be in the cage soon,” VanZant said, “I’m talking to the UFC right now about getting me back in the cage. I’m definitely looking at various offers.”

It’s really up to the UFC,” VanZant said. “I would like it to be in the top 10 if there’s people available. So you know, we’ll see it’s just whoever doesn’t have a fight, whoever’s ready at the same time, or whoever the UFC gives me.”


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