UFC flyweight contender Paige VanZant is officially a free agent, and will begin discussing the next phase of her career with the UFC and any other interested promotions.
VanZant fulfilled the final obligation of her latest UFC contract at UFC 251, where she took on the streaking Amanda Ribas. Unfortunately for the fan favorite and her legions of supporters, this fight didn’t go as she planned, as she was submitted in the first round.
In an interview with Damon Martin of MMA Fighting, VanZant acknowledged that the UFC gave her a very tough matchup for the final fight of her contract.
“This is the exact fight the UFC wanted,” VanZant said. “They kind of do this to people when they’re on the last fight on their contract. They give them, like, the perfect style matchup. I went against somebody, she’s 10-1, I’ve almost had layoffs, calculating like three years I’ve only been able to fight once cause I keep getting injured.
“Obviously, it was the very toughest opponent they could give me for my one returning fight I had left. I didn’t play into what the UFC wanted. Of course, I still had confidence going into it. Amanda was so talented. I’m so excited to see where her career goes.”
After UFC 251 concluded, White suggested that VanZant should “definitely” test free agency, seemingly put-off by the flyweight’s gripes regarding her pay.
VanZant says White’s comments are “unfortunate,” and contrary to the relationship she thought they had.
“Honestly, I didn’t actually see specifically the quote or what he said. I try not to pay attention too much,” VanZant said. “It’s unfortunate because I feel like I have a really good relationship with Dana.
“I feel like I thought we were closer friends and he could text me or call me,” VanZant continued. “Something to have a little bit of compassion, something to communicate with me personally but maybe he will. We just don’t know. I’m sure it’s an uncomfortable situation.
“Dana’s comments, what I’m hearing you say, he wants me to test free agency then hopefully they just let me go then,” she added. “If that’s how they feel, then they’ll just let me be free.”
While it’s certainly possible VanZant will ink a new deal with the UFC—she remains a big star and a legitimately talented fighter—it’s also possible she will sign with another promotion like Bellator or ONE Championship. Her priority, she told MMA Fighting, is finding a promotion that will work with her as she chases her goals.
“Honestly for me and that’s something I want to go into negotiations, whoever it’s with, I want to know that they want me to be part of their family,” VanZant said. “I want to work for them.
“I want to open a relationship where I can work — whether that’s working the desk or reporting or doing behind-the-scenes work. I have a passion for camera and TV work as well. So I would love if I could more than just fight for a promotion. I ultimately want to be part of the family.”
Where do you think Paige VanZant will end up?