Paige VanZant is a much happier and healthier fighter competing at 125 pounds.
After spending the majority of her career competing as a strawweight, VanZant moved up to the flyweight division for her last fight and while the result wasn’t what she wanted, there was no denying how much better she felt in that weight class.
According to VanZant, her weight cuts to get down to 115 pounds were so brutal that she eventually developed an eating disorder to ensure that she would be able to make the strawweight limit.
“I was having different issues with myself and my body,” VanZant told the BBC this past weekend. “I was giving myself an eating disorder to make the weight.”
While VanZant had already made up her mind to begin competing as a flyweight, she saw just had bad things can get for a fight when trying to shave off those last few pounds before stepping onto the scale.
Just ahead of her flyweight debut against Jessica-Rose Clark, VanZant witnessed former “Ultimate Fighter” finalist Uriah Hall collapse just before weighing in for his fight against Vitor Belfort the next night.
Hall ended up in the hospital where doctors were very concerned for his health and well being and that served as the ultimate wake up call for VanZant to know she made the right call moving to 125 pounds.
“I was at a fight where a fellow UFC fighter, Uriah Hall, was cutting weight and he pushed himself just to the brink of death. He had kidney failure and started seizing in the hallway right in front of me,” VanZant said.
“It’s because of that I’m like ‘I cant do this anymore.'”
The UFC has started to monitor fighters in a much closer manner than ever before when it comes to weight cutting ahead of an event. Just this past weekend, the UFC cancelled a fight due to one competitor going through an extreme weight cut in an attempt to hit the targeted number on the scale.
Of course fighters are always going to try to do anything possible to gain the slightest advantage in a bout, which is why so many athletes are willing to damage their own bodies by weight cutting.
“It’s our decision to cut weight, it’s our decision to fight at those lower weight classes,” VanZant stated.
By the sound of things, VanZant has found a happy middle ground where she can still compete with the best fighters in the world without depleting herself to the point where she’s committing self-harm.