There are two types of people in this world: those who fall apart when life punches them in face-and those who punch back. Most often you’ll find the latter inside the Octagon and in the gym day after day, pushing their bodies to the limit not in spite of, but because of the overwhelming difficulties life has dealt them. These are the type of people who don’t pray for lighter burdens, they pray for stronger shoulders.
On paper Paige VanZant, a 24-year-old blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu holds a record of 7-4. What paper doesn’t tell you is that in her loss against Rose Namajunas, Namajunas had many failed attempts before finally submitting her; that Paige’s elbow was nearly bent backwards and VanZant still didn’t tap.
On paper you won’t see that in her loss against Michelle Waterson, she didn’t tap at all. The ref called the fight when she went out completely. Paper also won’t tell you that in her three round decision loss against Jessica-Rose Clark, VanZant broke her arm in the first round (an injury she would later need two surgeries to completely recover from) but she kept fighting because quitting is not an option for Page “12 Gauge” VanZant.
Paper also won’t be able to convey the violent beauty she exhibited when she knocked out Bec Rawlings, fainting a kick with her left foot, then bringing up her right foot, landing with bone shattering accuracy. And you can’t look to paper to find the heart and will power it took for VanZant to begin a career in the ring, so many years ago after enduring a sexual assault which led to her being bullied for a crime she was the victim of to the point she felt she had to change her name.
While fighting for Invicta, Rachael Ostovich, a 27-year-old mixed martial artist with a background in Judo, was known for her Wonder Woman fight gear. With her long thick black hair, her striking dark eyes, and her devastating punches, Ostovich was everything that Wonder Woman embodied: the strength and power of a female warrior.
It was a shock to her fans when, on November 18, 2018 news broke that Ostovich was assaulted by her husband. The assault was recorded on camera as she suffered a broken orbital bone from the attack. Later, she would tell MMA Junkie that her coach and training staff did the right thing when they initially removed her from the VanZant fight, as their duty is to protect their fighter. But she said, even as she laid in the hospital bed, she knew she was going to fight. Because that’s what she is: a fighter.
Normally when I pen these reviews I break down the fighter’s strengths and weaknesses inside the ring and offer insights on what each fighter needs to do in order to be successful in victory. But this time I wanted to shed light on the strengths of these two women outside of the ring because they have already faced some of their biggest fights before they even stepped into the octagon.
Be sure not to miss the UFC Fight Night Premiere on ESPN+ where these two female warriors will show just how strong their shoulders are.
*This one’s for you, Sammi.