Paige VanZant is set to make her Bare Knuckle FC debut on February 5 when she takes on Britain Hart in the main event of KnuckleMania.
VanZant (8-5-0 MMA, 0-0 Bare Knuckle Boxing) left the UFC last year after losing to Amanda Ribas via submission in the very first-round. Following the loss, the 26-year-old opted to not re-sign with the UFC or any MMA promotion but instead enter the brutal world of bare-knuckle boxing.
During a recent chat with Morning Kombat, VanZant opened up about how her family and coaches were initially against her signing up to be a bare-knuckle boxer.
“I’m doing it for nobody but myself. I’m doing it because it sounds awesome. How many people could say that they are a professional bare-knuckle boxer? It’s a huge moment for my career.” she said. “Honestly, at first, my husband was like, ‘No, you are not doing this,’. And then my mom was against it, I had some coaches against it. But once I signed the contract, everybody is on board now. They have to because they are supporting me through it all. Now, going to the fights is so exciting. My husband was like, ‘This is awesome. Maybe I want to do it, too.'”
“The money was great and, of course, that’s going to be part of it. But No. 2 was that this is awesome. For me to have bragging rights as a bare-knuckle professional boxer was a big part of it. In this new transition, I think people will see that I really do love to fight. I am transitioning into this barbaric sport, and I’m not doing that to prove a point to anybody, I’m doing it because I want to. I think it looks badass and I want to.” she continued. “You might get cut open, but I have been cut open in fights before. It’s no big deal for me. I get to show how tough I am.”
VanZant reflected on the ending of her UFC career and the pressure she felt on her “shoulders”. Right now, the former Dancing With The Stars runner-up is feeling more motivated than ever to prove people wrong.
“For me, I feel the ending of my career in the UFC, I did feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. Right now, I feel nothing like that. I’m here to take over and show the world how good I am. I feel like I am finally in a place where I can develop my striking, and I know I am so confident going into this. I know I’ve made every sacrifice to win, and that’s what I’m going to do.” she said. “Of course, like anybody, you wish your job would do more for you. You wish that you would get paid more. But at the end of the day, you have to do it for yourself, and a lot of things I did get by myself. Going to ‘Dancing With The Stars,’ we got that. That was me and my manager.”
“I feel like the UFC does a good job building their stars — they really do. But I felt like I needed to take control, and that’s what I’m doing. I feel like I’m writing out my own destiny and am at a point in my life where I don’t need an organization to be relevant. I am relevant completely by myself, and I truly feel that’s why I can bring so much to these organizations.” she continued.
Bare Knuckle FC: KnuckleMania takes place on Friday February 5, 2021, from Tampa, Florida. The event will be aired live worldwide on pay-per-view via FITE.tv.