Paige VanZant has not fought since January of this year, when she submitted Rachael Ostovich. Since then, she has been sidelined due to yet another broken arm. For her husband Austin Vanderford, it has been hard to see her be on the shelf once again.
“The hardest part of our relationship has been her arm. It is hard to relate it to anything else. Really, it just takes away from what she wants to do,” Vanderford told BJEPNN.com. “She has her foot in a lot of things and is very smart and has built her brand to go further than fighting. But, her fighting is the most important thing. If anything has proven that is this injury. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t get to see that. She is a fighter first and foremost.”
When Paige VanZant will be able to return to the Octagon is unknown. She recently was just cleared to start training, but, given the fact that she has broken the arm twice already, Vanderford is urging her to take things slow.
“We are hoping she can fight soon but we have learned we can’t rush anything,” he said. “She has been patient with it and just hopes she can fight again in 2019.”
If she does fight in 2019 it will be the last fight on her current UFC contract. She has said she will test free agency as she wants to see what she is worth.
When she’s ready to fight again, VanZant will decide if she wants to compete at flyweight or strawweight. Vanderford says that has been an ongoing discussion. He says Paige VanZant knows she can make the 115-pound strawweight division, but it would not be easy.
“We have tossed it around a little bit. I don’t know because I am doing the opposite. The cut was hard for me to make 170 and her to make 115 is hard for her,” Vanderford explained. “It just depends on how she is feeling after she starts training. But, there are options in both weight classes.”
In the end, Austin Vanderford is just eager to see his wife in Paige VanZant return to the Octagon and fight again. But, don’t expect the nerves to go away as he says watching her fight is the most nervous he has been in his life.
“Without a doubt in my mind watching Paige fight, it makes me so nervous. I feel so bad for my mom and dad of putting them through that torture. It is not even comparable,” Vanderford concluded. “But, on the flip side, a win from your significant other is like nothing else. Her last fight, not to get soft or anything it brought me to tears. Her fighting makes me so much more nervous [than when I fight].”
Who should Paige VanZant fight when she returns to the Octagon?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/23/2019.