Bellator president Scott Coker confirmed that his promotion has a “serious” interest in signing UFC women’s fighter Paige VanZant to a free-agent deal.
VanZant recently finished off the last fight of her UFC contract with a disappointing first-round submission loss to Amanda Ribas at UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi. Despite the loss, VanZant is expected to garner plenty of interest on the free-agent market. It seems doubtful she will re-sign with the UFC considering Dana White’s remarks after her fight, but Bellator, ONE Championship, and RIZIN FF could all make VanZant free-agent offers.
Bellator, in particular, has long been connected to VanZant because her husband, middleweight Austin Vanderford, fights for the organization. Speaking to Mike Heck of MMAFighting.com, Coker confirmed Bellator has a serious interest in signing VanZant.
“You know, to be honest, I don’t think we’ve had a business conversation yet. We definitely have a relationship with her and her husband, her camp, her management, so we definitely will reach out here when she gets back and settled. She’s back but she’s probably still settling from the trip. From what I heard, it wasn’t a very fun time over there. But listen, do we want to be in the Paige VanZant business? We definitely want to have a conversation with her,” Coker said of VanZant.
Bellator has been no stranger to signing former UFC fighters to free-agent deals, including Bellator women’s featherweight champion Cris Cyborg, Bellator heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader, former Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi, and many more. VanZant would make a lot of sense for the promotion, especially as it looks to build up its women’s divisions.
With VanZant able to fight at both 115lbs and 125lbs, Bellator would have plenty of options for her. The promotion could very well build the entire strawweight division around her, or it could match VanZant up with Bellator women’s flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane. Even though VanZant is coming off of the loss to Ribas in what was mostly a blowout, she is still a very popular fighter and one who has had plenty of success at the highest level of the sport. So in saying that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Bellator is so interested.
“I would say that we’re going to do our best to have a serious conversation with her in the near future,” Coker confirmed.
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