Austin Vanderford says ‘it was kind of hard to watch’ wife Paige VanZant in bare-knuckle boxing

By Drake Riggs - May 18, 2021

Paige VanZant has officially transitioned from MMA to bare-knuckle boxing. An unexpected sight for many, her husband, Austin Vanderford, also found it a bit tough to see.

Regardless, the rising Bellator middleweight contender still fully supported, and supports, his partner in crime.

“It honestly felt like an MMA fight,” Austin Vanderford said of VanZant’s bare-knuckle boxing debut on What the Heck. “Of course, there’s a little more at stake with the damage and it being a new venture and whatnot. I was extremely proud, especially her last round I thought she really turned it on and it kind of showed what she can go forward and do in the fights to come.”

VanZant (8-5 in MMA) made her Bare Knuckle FC (BKFC) debut in February against Britain Hart at BKFC: KnuckleMania. Hart (4-4-3) would get the better of the former MMA star via a unanimous decision.

“Of course we were both bummed out [about the loss],” Vanderford said. “It felt like it was a fight she could win but going into it, Britain had the experience over her—I think it was her fourth or fifth fight—and it just was a big eye-opener. Even just the round lengths being so short, and just knowing how much we could put on the gas pedal from the opening minutes to the rest of the fight. But it was kind of hard to watch, for sure.”

This Friday night at Bellator 259 in Uncasville, Connecticut Austin Vanderford will get back in action himself. The fight will act as his fifth under the Bellator banner as he looks to extend his record to 11-0.

Standing in Vanderford’s way will be the equally impressive younger brother of top UFC welterweight contender Leon Edwards, Fabian (9-1). Bellator 259 can be watched live on Showtime. Prelims start at 5:30 PM EST.


Austin Vanderford bare knuckle boxing Bellator BKFC Paige VanZant