Following her first-ever UFC loss to Rose Namajunas and a successful stint on “Dancing With The Stars” where she finished in second place, popular women’s strawweight Paige VanZant is set to return to fighting.
“12 Gauge” announced on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” today (Wed., June 23, 2016) that she will fight Bec Rawlings at August 21’s UFC on FOX 21 from Vancouver, British Columbia. VanZant stated her excitement for the bout:
“I am so excited about this match-up. I think it’s perfect. Especially coming back into the UFC after being away with ‘Dancing with the Stars’,” said VanZant. “I love Canada… I can’t wait for this one.”
VanZant will look to rebound from a dominant submission loss to surging contender Rose Namajunas in the main event of UFC Fight Night 80 last December, the first stoppage loss of her MMA career. With holes to fix and haters to prove wrong, VanZant said the time of “Dancing With The Stars” helped her be rid of some prior nagging injuries from training:
“The few nagging injuries I had in my two previous UFC fights are completely gone, because I haven’t done the impact training, the head-on collisions,” VanZant said. “It actually really helped. It was great cardio and kept me in shape… I really miss MMA and the UFC.”
The 22-year-old fan favorite was also reported to have signed on for a significant role in the upcoming martial arts film “Kickboxer: Retaliation,” but has instead turned down the part in order to focus on training.
She’ll face an opponent with more momentum in Rawlings, who recently secured her second straight UFC win by defeating Seohee Ham at March 20’s UFC Fight Night 85 after submitting Lisa Ellis at UFC Fight Night 65 in her native Australia last May. The win streak comes at a pivotal time for the Aussie, as she lost her UFC debut to Heather Jo Clark at the The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 Finale in late 2014.
But VanZant still holds the higher ranking at No. 10 over the unranked Rawlings, making this a vital statement bout for both women.
UFC on FOX 21 also features the featherweight debut of former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, who will meet Brazilian jiu-jitsu wiz Charles Oliveira.