Recently top ranked UFC women’s strawweight Paige VanZant was put under fire from critics after making a seemingly innocent comment that she and Felice Herrig, her next opponent, are the ‘hot girls’ in the UFC.
Paige responded to her critics prior to UFC 183 in a media scrum, saying:
“You know, I think that me and [Felice Herrig] will always get perceived that way. You know, I was saying that that’s what other people think about us. And, you know, we were born this way, it’s nothing that we can change. That just means that we both have to prove that we’re the toughest people out there. I’m going to go out there and prove that I’m not just a pretty face.”
VanZant went on to explain that the reaction from fellow fighters was what she expected.
“No, It’s definitely what I expected. I was bullied a lot in high school, and I think a lot of that had to do with, I guess, my looks. Going back, I wouldn’t change it, because it made me stronger. And, I’m too strong for them to shake me. ”
“High school was pretty rough for me. I actually graduated, I went to college when I was 16, just to get out of the whole high school thing. Didn’t want to deal with any of that anymore. So, I went through so much that everything that happens now, no matter what people will say, these are people that I don’t know and people I don’t think about, so what they say doesn’t faze me.”
Now that VanZant is in the spotlight, and she wants to be an example of strength for younger girls who look up to her.
“It’s amazing, I really want to be a voice for young girls that have also been bullied. I went through a lot growing up, and it’s things that, if I talked about, you wouldn’t even believe. It was a rough few years in high school, so I just want to be a voice for them and say that “You don’t have to play the victim, you can play the survivor and the fighter.”