23-Year-Old UFC Flyweight 7-3-0
November 27, 2017 Paige VanZant News
RotoWire Fantasy Analysis
Vanzant (back) told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour that she will face Jessica-Rose Clark in a flyweight matchup in St. Louis on Jan. 14.
VanZant hasn't always been truthful about her fight announcements, as she announced earlier this month while attending UFC 217 that she would be competing for a flyweight title. She admitted in the interview that it was wishful thinking, but also said that the paperwork has now been signed for a matchup against Clark. It was reported by ESPN's Brett Okamoto last week that the UFC had been targeting this matchup, which makes VanZant's assertion believable this time around (she had to skirt around the opponent name, as the UFC has yet to announce it). What's important here is that VanZant has made significant progress from her back injury, and is now ready for a matchup against a relative UFC newcomer. The 29-year-old Clark defeated Bec Rawlings at UFC Sydney on Nov. 18 -- an opponent VanZant has also defeated via KO. Another aspect worth watching will be VanZant's ascension to the 125-pound division, as she has spent her career to date as a strawweight.
Paige VanZant: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
Fantasy AnalysisVanZant is currently dealing with a herniated disc in her back -- an injury that she has been dealing with off and on since signing with the UFC in 2014. She was advised to stop training after aggravating the ailment, which ultimately cancelled her scheduled fight against Jessica Eye at UFC 216. Should all go well in her rehab, VanZant hopes to compete under the UFC banner in the near future, whether is against Eye or a separate opponent.
Fantasy AnalysisSpecifically, VanZant suffered "an intervertebral disc injury," which caused her doctor to recommend taking a break from training for a few weeks. Fortunately, she won't need to undergo surgery, but the injury will cost her an Oct. 7 matchup against Eye. VanZant hasn't fought since last December, but it remains to be seen if she'll be booked for another fight before the end of 2017.
Fantasy AnalysisVanZant was scheduled to make a move up to the flyweight division, and had planned to continue fighting at 125 pounds afterwards. Those plans will be put on hold for now, however, as the 23-year-old is dealing with some type of ailment that will render her unable to compete at the Oct. 7 event. The UFC is likely to attempt to find a replacement, though few in the division have the same drawing power as VanZant, who has reached celebrity status due largely to achievements and appearances outside the Octagon. It's also possible the fight is simply rescheduled for a later date. Stay tuned for the UFC to make an official announcement.
Fantasy AnalysisVanZant is scheduled to fight Jessica Eye in her first flyweight matchup at UFC 216, but she wants to make the jump in weight class more permanent. The 23-year-old has struggled to reach 115 pounds and passed out multiple times during the process. The addition of a women's flyweight division (125 pounds) has given "12 Gauge" the opportunity to make a healthier cut. Allowing her body to maintain the extra weight will help VanZant retain power and speed during fights. Joining the new division could be a good move for VanZant, who is 1-2 in her last three outings.
Fantasy AnalysisVanZant will be making the jump from 115 pounds to 125 pounds to face "Evil Eye" in this bout. At age 23, she has racked up a 7-3 record (4-2 UFC) but struggled to avoid submissions in two of her last three fights. This may be what led "12 Gauge" to switch camps from Team Alpha Male to Gracie Barra in Portland, Oregon this May. With all the changes lately, it's not farfetched that VanZant may come out with a different strategy against Eye than her fans are used to, especially since Eye will be coming down from bantamweight for this matchup.
Fantasy AnalysisVanZant, 23, came up with a well-known training camp at Team Alpha Male, but decided it was time to change things up in advance of her next fight, which has yet to be scheduled. Both of her UFC losses have came by way of submission, so VanZant will make grappling a top priority moving forward, and will now learn under the tutelage of esteemed jiu-jitsu coach Fabiano Scherner, who has worked with fighters such as Chael Sonnen. In addition to a new grappling coach, VanZant has also re-worked her conditioning program, and will be closer to her family in Oregon. Although her next fight hasn't been booked, the strawweight prospect has her sights set on a top-10 opponent.
Fantasy AnalysisVanZant has a lot of potential, and no 22-year-old kid is going to turn down a high-profile, headlining fight, but the UFC needs to slow down in regards to how quickly they push these young prospects. Paige looked like an amateur on Saturday against a former world champion in Waterson. Once Waterson forced her to the mat, PVZ had no chance of fighting her off. Refusing to submit to the RNC, VanZant eventually passed out. We are all aware of VanZant's marketability, but the truth of the matter is that the only two times in her career that she has faced a high-quality opponent (Waterson, Rose Namajunas), she's been dominated. There's plenty of time in VanZant's career for her to make headlines. She doesn't need to be rushed into fights against opponents that she can't handle at the moment. There's obviously potential for much more in the future, but PVZ is barely a top-10 strawweight at the moment.
Fantasy AnalysisVanZant is coming off a resounding knockout victory over Bec Rawlings in August, improving her professional record to 7-2. The 22-year-old American will have a tough task ahead of her when she enters the octagon with Waterson, who boasts a 13-4 record and is coming off submission victory over Angela Magana at TUF 21 Finale. The two MMA brawlers will headline the event held at Golden 1 Center on Dec. 17.
Fantasy AnalysisA picture-perfect head kick bailed PVZ out in this one after a slow start. With Rawlings pushing the pace early, Paige struggle to find her rhythm until late in Round 1. The kick that led to the finish early in Round 2 was a beautifully-placed left leg that connected with the side of Rawlings head. You can't do it any better. The slow start is concerning, especially in a three-round fight, but Paige got the win that she needed following her first pro loss to Rose Namajunas in her last fight. In her post-fight interview with Brian Stann, PVZ asked for a spot on the Sacramento FOX card that will take place in December. Seems like a good chance she will get her wish.
Fantasy AnalysisThe hype surrounding VanZant came to a screeching halt after her whopping at the hands of Rose Namajunas in December, but the truth of the matter is that the loss doesn't impact the future of the 22-year-old in the least. A loss to Rawlings may be a different story. PVZ is still extremely limited in terms of her technical skills, but her cardio and strength give her a chance to win most every fight. She is at least a year away from being able to compete against the top-tier fighters of the UFC's 115-pound women's division, but the future potential is there.
Fantasy AnalysisVanZant has been out of professional fighting for more than six months, becoming increasingly famous over that span due to an appearance on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," where she finished as the runner-up. She had planned to delay her return to the octagon until late-August, and that's exactly how the timeline currently lines up. Nobody ever questioned the toughness of VanZant, as she was beaten bloody but still pressed forward in her last professional fight, a fifth-round submission loss to Rose Namajunas. She'll need more than just toughness to get back into the winning column against Rawlings, a 27-year-old Australian that is 2-1 in her first three UFC fights.
Fantasy AnalysisVanZant had originally intended to fight at UFC 200 on July 9, but those plans will now be put on hold, likely due to her participation in ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." The reality show appears to be taking up much of the rising star's time, which would otherwise be dedicated to training. By the time the fall season rolls around, VanZant will be nearly a year out of competition, as her last fight was a submission defeat to Rose Namajunas in December. Even though she wasn't very competitive in that bout, VanZant is just 22 years old, and likely has the best days of her fighting career ahead of her.
Fantasy AnalysisVanZant showed all the heart in the world, but she just doesn't have the technical skills to beat better fighters. It was a truly ugly performance. PVZ got off literally no offense and she spent nearly the entire fight trying to get up off her back. VanZant's gas tank held up, as usual, but she was never in any position to do any damage on Thursday night. The highlight of VanZant's performance was her submission defense. Namajunas could have ended the fight on numerous occasions. VanZant is still so young and has a lot of potential, but this was a major step back. She wasn't competitive.
Fantasy AnalysisVanZant has stormed into the UFC strawweight division, collecting victories over Alex Chambers, Felice Herrig and Kailin Curran. She was originally supposed to face Joanne Calderwood in this bout, but drew a much higher-ranked fighter in NamaJunas when Calderwood had to withdraw due to injury. Regardless of her opponent, VanZant has incredibly quick hands (5.16 significant strikes landed per minute), and should have an excellent chance at a victory if the fight stays on the feet. Even if the fight lands on the mat, VanZant has a well rounded game that should keep her in contention on the big stage.
Fantasy AnalysisCalderwood is talented, but it isn't a stretch to say that Namajunas is one of the better strawweights in the world. PVZ is going to have her work cut out for her in this one. VanZant's seemingly never ending gas tank gives her a real chance in any fight, but Namajunas is a tougher opponent than Calderwood. PVZ was listed as a -650 favorite for the fight against JoJo, but that number is going to drop when the odds are updated for the current fight against Rose.
Fantasy AnalysisVanZant announced on her personal Twitter account earlier in the day that she had signed a new contract with the UFC. It is a bit of a surprise that the UFC is putting the marketable PVZ on a Fight Pass card, but the UFC is trying to build up their streaming service. As for the fight itself, Calderwood will easily be the biggest test of PVZ's young UFC career. VanZant is tough and talented, but Calderwood is no joke. PVZ better come ready for a fight in December.
Fantasy AnalysisWell, that went pretty much as expected. VanZant's biggest asset is the fact that she's aggressive. She is always moving forward and never seems to get tired. A majority of this fight was spent in the clinch, a position from which VanZant absolutely dominated. Chambers was an inferior opponent so the win itself doesn't mean all that much, but VanZant went out and did what she was supposed to do. Despite the win, the UFC needs to continue to take things very slowly with PVZ. Her ceiling is extremely high, but she is easily a year-plus away from being able to compete against someone like current UFC women's strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Fantasy AnalysisIt was reported a couple of weeks ago that VanZant would be fighting on this card and we now know her opponent. The UFC is smartly taking it slowly with VanZant, who is quickly turning into one of their most marketable stars. PVZ will be a heavy favorite in the bout.