Paige VanZant is one of the most popular female sports stars in the world today.
Making her UFC debut in 2014, ’12 Gauge’ immediately became a favorite among fight fans for her striking appearance and her ability to kick a** inside the Octagon. Scoring three-straight wins with the promotion, it appeared as though VanZant was primed for superstardom. However, her path to fame and fortune wouldn’t be through the fight game. Instead, she grew her following on social media platforms like Instagram.
Then OnlyFans changed everything.
Within 24 hours of offering content on the popular subscription-based service, Paige VanZant eclipsed her earnings from a decade-long career of getting punch in the face.
Despite being in the spotlight for many years, there is one fact about her that fans are just now learning; VanZant is not her real name. Per a report from CBS Sports, VanZant was born with the name Paige Sletten, but opted to change her name after classmates started to call her ‘Paige Slutton’ and spread rumours that she had consensual sex with multiple boys.
She decided on VanZant after hearing it at one of her mother’s PE lessons. It was the name of one of her students, so she decided to adopt it as her own.
Paige VanZant Credits MMA with saving her life
In addition to being “mercilessly bullied” by fellow students, the Oregon native revealed that she was the victim of a rape in her hometown. It was then that VanZant considered taking her own life.
“I didn’t see any other way out,” she said, per ABC News. “When you’re in that position, when you’re feeling that much pain, it’s not that you want to die. You just don’t want to be in pain anymore.”
Fortunately, VanZant found an outlet that ultimately saved her life.
“MMA fighting saved my life,” she said. “It saved who I was as a person, too.”
Today, Paige VanZant is one of the most recognizable names in sports. Aside from competing under the UFC and BKFC banners, ’12 Gauge’ has made multiple appearances for AEW and continues to be one of the most popular figures on both Instagram and OnlyFans.
VanZant hopes her story will inspire others, saying she wants to be “an advocate for anti-bullying.”