When Joanne Calderwood was forced to withdraw from her strawweight bout against Paige VanZant at UFC Fight Night 80 on Dec.10, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada, the promotion had to quickly scramble for a late replacement.
Fortunately for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) matchmakers, "12 Gauge" was game to take on anyone they wanted to throw at her. That's why when she found out Rose Namajunas was the the next woman up, she didn't hesitate one bit to accept the bout.
Paige talked about the late replacement with MMA Fighting and how a win could over "Thug Rose" could be huge for her title aspirations.
"No hesitation at all — none whatsoever. I'm in the best shape I've ever been in, this is the best fight camp I've ever had, and it's just the beginning of it. I have no injuries. I'm going in, I'm training harder than ever. I had a short break between fights, and that really helps me stay super, super in-shape. It's perfect for me to get a fight right away. I'm just ready to get back in there and showcase my skills. I'm really excited that I get to fight someone that's ranked higher than me, and I'm going to move up the rankings."
With a win over Namajunas, Paige can up her record to 7-1, 4-0 inside the Octagon.
As far what awaits the 21-year old standout should she get her fifth win in a row, she isn't worried too much about it. But, whatever's in the cards, "12 Gauge" is more than ready for it.
"That's [a title-fight opportunity is] up to the UFC, and that's up to my coaches and manager. For me, I only look at the opponent that's across from me. Nothing else matters. It doesn't matter who's in the audience. It doesn't matter who the belt-holder is. When I'm fighting someone, it's between me and the person across the cage."
And if the title shot doesn't come with a win over Namajunas, well, that's okay. After all, Paige has the time in the world to achieve her championship goals.