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Paige VanZant Makes Bizarre Career Move After Leaving UFC

Paige VanZant Makes Bizarre Career Move After Leaving UFC

"It was an amazing contract, an amazing opportunity..."

Jack Kenmare

Jack Kenmare

In an unexpected move, Paige VanZant has officially left the UFC to sign a four-fight, exclusive contract with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship in a deal worth over $1 million.

The 26-year-old, who held a record of 8-5-0 in MMA, last competed on the UFC 251 card at Fight Island, where she was defeated by Amanda Ribas after tapping out to an ambar in round one.

It was VanZant's fourth defeat in her last six fights against Ribas in Abu Dhabi.

But now the American fighter is ready to try her hand at another sport - and is keen on ending the 'pretty face' stigma while with BKFC.

"It was an amazing contract, an amazing opportunity," VanZant told ESPN. "I also feel like it's not a move backwards for me. It's a lateral move to a new opportunity, a new challenge, a brand new sport. I really have sparked a brand new passion for it and especially for striking in general."

"And, on top of that, I feel like I still have this stigma in MMA that I'm just a pretty face, and what a way to prove to people that's not the way I see myself at all. This is a sport where people probably have the highest rate of getting cut open and having long-term scars is definitely something that I'm not even worried about for me.

"It's just the love of competition and I'm really excited to go out there and show off in such an amazing sport."

While revealing the news surrounding her latest career move, VanZant did not rule out a return to MMA.

"I don't know that I am done with MMA," she said. "I know momentarily I am. I still have a huge passion for MMA, and I just recently relocated to Florida to train with American Top Team. Obviously they are one of the best MMA gyms in the world.

"Right now, my sole focus is boxing, but in a few years I could go back to MMA or I could just be making so much doing this bare knuckle boxing that I don't do anything else."

Back in July, Paige VanZant reacted to Dana White's "free agency" comments following her defeat at UFC 251 by saying it was "unfortunate because I feel like I have a really good relationship with Dana."

UFC president White discussed the fight against Ribas in a post-show press conference and stated the 26-year-old should "definitely" try her hand at free agency away from the promotion.

And here we are, almost a month later. VanZant will now compete in the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship with a plan to debut in November.

Thoughts on her decision?

Let us know in the comments..

Featured Image Credit: Paige VanZant/Instagram

Topics: Bare Knuckle, Paige VanZant, MMA News, UFC 251, UFC, MMA