The regional mixed martial arts scene is filled with hopeful fighters that dream to one day step foot inside the octagon. Some of the biggest stars of the UFC have shared their stories of struggle before they signed with the promotion. UFC strawweight Paige VanZant’s path to the octagon was far from easy, but her hard work paid off in the end.
“I ran out of gas more times than I can count and I’ve had multiple people push my car to the gas station,” Vanzant told BJPENN.COM. She continued, “That’s definitely something I’m not going to miss.”
While most teenagers were spending their time partying at college and figuring out what they wanted to do with their lives, VanZant already had her sights set on professional fighting.
“Before I made it to the UFC, I was working two jobs, going to school, and training at the same time so I was really struggling for a long time,” Vanzant said. “Once I made it pro, I was able to propel my career really quickly. So, it was really nice to actually not having to chug to the gas station and hope I don’t end up pushing it.”
The hard work paid off and she made a quick transition from fighting regionally to signing with the UFC. She made her debut in 2014 at UFC Fight Night 57 where she defeated Kailin Curran in the Fight of the Night. Even though the fight happened on UFC Fight Pass, she became a star overnight and her life hasn’t been the same since.
“The fact that people want my autograph is still kind of weird to me, but I’m getting used to it and I like the attention I’m getting so far,” VanZant stated. “Performing on such a big platform is huge. Actually having money in my bank account is amazing.”
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