When Paige VantZant made her UFC debut fans didn’t know what to expect. VanZant was a former dancer, cheerleader, and model. She had only become interested in combat sports when she was in high school. Everyone wanted to know: can this girl actually fight? As a part of the newly formed strawweight division, VanZant faced off with Kailin Curran and with a third-round TKO, Paige VanZant proved not only can she fight, but she fights well.
Full Name: Paige Michelle VanZant (married last name Vanderford)
Birthday: March 26, 1994
Paige VanZant started her sports career as a dancer at her parent’s dance studio. But her interests were not limited to dance activities she also spent much of her time outside riding ATVs and dirt bikes. She also enjoyed shooting targets which earned her the nickname, that she would carry with her to the fighting world, 12 gauge.
When entering high school VanZant used her dance skills to earn a place on the varsity cheerleading team. High school was not a smooth ride for VanZant. She was frequently bullied by classmates. In her book Rise: Surviving the Fight of My Life VanZant revealed that not only was she bullied but she was sexually assaulted by several boys at a party. Her classmates used this as more ammunition to bully her. The bullying became so bad VanZant and her family moved to a new city and changed her name. Once the family was settled in their new home of Sparks, Nevada Paige found herself looking for a new dance studio but instead she found herself in an MMA gym. Looking for a way to learn to defend herself, should anyone try and assault her again, VanZant excelled in her training.
After graduating from high school two years early she became fully committed to combat sports and started training to become a full-time fighter.
Amateur and Pro Career
At 18 years old, Vanzant made her amateur career debut at the UWF Tournament of Warrior in 2012. She won her first fight by split decision. She carried on to Premier Fight Series 2 and won her fight by unanimous decision.
She then moved on to fight in Invicta FC where she lost her fight to Tecia Torres.
After being too young to compete on The Ultimate Fighter television show VanZant had to wait until November 22, 2014, to make her debut, and she came out with a bang. In the third round against Kailin Curran, Vanzant took her opponent to the ground and won via TKO. Her next fight went the full length of three five minute rounds. Vanzant won by unanimous decision. Since then Vanzant has won two fights via submission and another TKO.
Outside the Ring
— Sports Illustrated Swimsuit (@SI_Swimsuit) October 21, 2019
In 2016 Paige Vanzant was selected to be on Dancing with the Stars for the shows 22nd season. With her past dance experience, VanZant wowed at-home viewers and made it all the way to the show’s finale where she and partner Mark Ballas placed second overall. She also appeared as a celebrity contestant on Chopped.
Paige VanZant became Paige Vanderford in September 2018 when she married fellow fighter, Austin Vanderford. The pair now live in Portland, Oregon where they both train.
In 2019 Vanzant was chosen to appear in the coveted Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.
VanZant has since been battling a fractured arm that she received during a fight in January 14, 2018, has caused her to several surgeries and screws implanted in her arm. Her next fight is scheduled for March 14, 2020.
Paige VanZant Stats
— Paige VanZant (@paigevanzant) August 29, 2019
Record: 8 wins 4 losses
Strike Accuracy: 54%
Weightclass: Strawweight, she has also fought in the flyweight division.