In December 2013, Paige VanZant was signed by the UFC along with ten other women to be part of its newly created women’s strawweight division. It was originally planned for her to be among the cast of the twentieth season of The Ultimate Fighter, but three months later she was declared ineligible to appear on the reality series because she was too young.
The season crowned the inaugural UFC women’s strawweight champion, but VanZant believes missing out on the opportunity to be on the reality show was a blessing in disguise.
“I definitely feel like I dodged a bullet. I would have loved to of worked with those coaches. I think they’re amazing athletes. Their whole coaching team would have been an awesome experience,” VanZant recently said during a media scrum.
“It would have been a lot of growth from being on the show, but the fact that I didn’t have to and I still got the opportunity to fight for the UFC, I got the opportunity to get that bonus; it was a blessing in disguise. I definitely wouldn’t change it for the world,” she added.
VanZant made her promotional debut at UFC Fight Night 57 in November and quickly became one of the most popular additions to the roster. She even already landed an individual sponsorship deal with Reebok.
VanZant defeated Kailin Curran by technical knockout in her debut and earned the Fight of the Night $50,000 bonus award. She’s scheduled to face eighth-ranked Felice Herrig at UFC on Fox 18 on April 18.