Paige VanZant Reacts To UFC 216 Withdrawal

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Kyle Terada for USA TODAY Sports

After a down run where she was submitted in two out of her last three fights at women’s strawweight, Paige VanZant was looking to reinvent her career in the UFC’s new female 125-pound division against longtime bantamweight Jessica Eye at October 7’s UFC 216.

That was until a back injury forced her out of the fight yesterday. The injury, fortunately, didn’t require surgery, and apparently, she’s undergoing physical therapy on the disc issue in order to be ready to fight as soon as before the end of the year. VanZant told MMA Fighting she’s hoping to get back into the octagon before 2017 ends.

She also said the injury was one that flared up while she was training jiu-jitsu after having the ailment since she signed with the UFC back in 2014. “12 Gauge” quickly made a meteoric rise to fame and fortune as she knocked off three straight strawweights to begin her UFC career, but it was most likely too much pressure for a young contender who was putting her body through a ton of stress to even make the divisions limit.

She hit a wall against top-ranked fighters Rose Namajunas and Michelle Waterson, and has since left Team Alpha Male to return back to her native state of Oregon. She’s also admitted that cutting down to 115 is becoming too much for her body, and is anxious to compete at a more natural class once her back heals.

When she does return, VanZant said she’s ready to take on anyone:

“Depending on my healing timeline, I’ll fight anyone who is available.”