As new fight promotion Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship continues to snatch away MMA refugees from other companies, such as the UFC, they add another one to the family. Women’s flyweight Paige VanZant inks a four-fight contract with the organization following a 1st round submission loss to Amanda Ribas at UFC 251 on July 11.
Only UFC president Dana White suggested that she test the free agency market. In calling her own jump to BKFC a lateral move and a challenge. The bigger challenge could be making the big jump from leaving her hometown of Portland and fight camp Gracie Barra Portland to Coconut Creek, Florida, and American Top Team. ATT boasts a roster of great fighters including UFC BMF champion Jorge Masvidal, interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier, and former welterweight champions Tyron Woodley and Robbie Lawler.
The Sparks, Nevada native sports an 8-5 MMA record, including a 5-3 record under the WME umbrella, a win percentage that still required her to look into her future further by exploring other avenues, including rival fight league Bellator MMA, where most pundits saw her going to. Instead, she chooses a promotion where she gives herself an opportunity to shake off an image that gives her an alarming reputation for being more of a celebrity than a pure fighter.
She was a contestant of ABC’s hit TV program “Dancing with the Stars” in 2016 during her time in the UFC. Exclaiming to have made more money on the hit reality show than dishing them out in the Octagon, using her brand to bring fans to their phone to stream BKFC fights can show her mainstream fans that this is who she really is — a fighter. Whether it’s under the brightest lights or at a local high school gym or small venue, with ATT in her corner, along with over 2 and a half million followers, will help bring out her dark side, knowing that she won’t have to wear gloves to knock out her opponents.
This could very well be a dawning of a haunting era for the 26-year old as she looks to prove herself further as a fighter, now that she is set to prepare to reinvent herself, step by step.