The combat sports world was turned on its ear last summer as David Feldman the President of the fast-rising Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship announced to the world that he had signed former UFC fighter Paige VanZant to a 4 fight deal with the promotion. A deal that if fulfilled will earn VanZant millions of dollars. While she is a fighter on the roster she also is going to be doing commentary and will be involved in other broadcasting projects for the promotion.
Some folks were shocked that the promotion invested so much money in VanZant, but David Feldman wasn’t worried at all. VanZant, one of the most recognized fighters while with the UFC has a huge social media following, and Feldman was banking on that to bring new eyes to his promotion, and in the process hopefully grow his company’s fanbase.
So now here we are one year later, and VanZant has competed twice in the squared circle and has come up short both times. In her first bout, she took on Britain Hart at KNUCKLEMANIA and lost a unanimous decision. She of course was unhappy but went back to the gym to continue her training for her next fight.
She was booked to fight fellow UFC veteran Rachael Ostovich in the main event of BKFC 19. An opponent she fought and beat in the octagon. She came into the bout, just like in her debut versus Hart as the betting favorite. VanZant again came up short in her quest for victory. While Ostovich and VanZant did earn fight of the night honors, VanZant would have liked the win to go along with her performance.
PVZ did look to have made improvements in her game, but Ostovich was ready for whatever VanZant offered, and was very technically sound in her debut.
So now we have the multi-million dollar girl sitting at 0-2, and many are wondering if the promotion should release her and redirect the money they would have spent on her to the rest of the roster to gain depth in numerous divisions. However, even though VanZant hasn’t won yet, her impact has been felt at the box office, and on the BKTV app where the promotion airs all its events. As a matter of fact, the app was the number 4 downloaded app in the world ahead of BKFC 19 garnering over 400,000 downloads! In other words, her presence is having the impact Feldman thought it would, and that in itself is a win for all involved. So I’m not expecting Feldman to release her. Also, some may think VanZant will quit, that won’t happen either, as the word quit is not a part of the VanZant vocabulary, and never will be.
As usual, the internet came out swinging in their critique of VanZant after she suffered her 2nd loss at BKFC. Crapping on her performance, and the fact that she stormed out of the ring after the decision without congratulating Ostovich. What they seem to forget was that immediately following the bout both fighters met in the middle hugged one another, took pictures for the world to see, and showed respect to their opponent. The fact that PVZ walked out after not getting the win, is not a big deal. We’ve seen it hundreds of times before when a fighter feels slighted by the judges, so as far as I’m concerned, no harm no foul by VanZant.
So what’s next for VanZant seems to be the lingering question. VanZant did make a social media post addressing it all.
“Guess what bitches???!! I’m still smiling!!! My story is full of setbacks, road blocks and detours. But, it is also filled with major comebacks, peace in my soul and a grace that saved my life. I promise you this, I would endure this pain everyday of my life over the pain of regret. I am going to keep chasing my dream one step at a time. 99.9% of the people on earth would not dare do what I do. This story will be even better then my first. And if you haven’t read my book before click the link in my bio. That is real pain. This is just a bad chapter. And to anyone out there struggling. Pain is only for a moment. The world may be dark and love to hate on you, but darkness does not drive out darkness only light can do that. So DO NOT STOP SHINING!!!”
Whether you like her or not, VanZant is here to stay! She has proven her value to the promotion, and the numbers don’t lie. Also, how can you not like this lady? She’s friendly, fearless, and gives it her all no matter what. When she gets knocked down, she gets right back up and continues to move forward, and smile, if only others had that grit and determination to be under so much scrutiny, and still smile.
I expect to see VanZant again before the end of the year. Possibly taking on Cassie Robb or Jenny Savage, both of who also took losses at BKFC 19.
Christopher James has been in the MMA industry for 15 years, Working as a ring announcer for promotions like the XFC, Island Fights, Combat Night and Fight Nights Global during his career. Chris’ love for the sport and the athletes that partake in it led him to writing and doing face to face interviews with the athletes he admired and respected. Chris isn’t conventional by any stretch of the imagination, he has his own style, and takes pride in not being a “cookie-cutter” member of the media. Unique and sometimes controversial takes are what he brings to the table, forcing folks to think a little differently about the world of MMA. He also has a love for music as he has been a dj for 25 years and his love for music gets brought to the MMA world when he gets his guests to sing on his weekly show Cage Side with Christopher James which can be seen Wednesday nights on FACEBOOK LIVE, and soon via podcast.