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Paige VanZant says it 'feels good' to get back to her roots, still open to WWE appearance

Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

At just 22 years of age, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) women's Strawweight contender Paige VanZant is taking over the mixed martial arts (MMA) world.

Her record isn't perfect, and she may not have won Dancing With The Stars, but "12 Gauge" is widely considered the second most popular female in the sport behind former UFC champ Ronda Rousey.

While her stint as a dancing beauty is over for now, VanZant will make her return to the Octagon at UFC on FOX 21 on Aug. 21 against Australian Bec Rawlings.

"I feel like the dance definitely did help me," said VanZant in a recent interview on ESPN's Sportscenter (h/t Wrestling Inc.). "There were a few months off where I didn't have the impact training, so the few nagging injuries I had in my previous two UFC fights are completely gone. I haven't done the impact training, the head-on collisions, so it actually really helped and it was great cardio."

Dancing may have helped the young superstar step away from the Octagon action and lick her wounds, but VanZant is ready to get back into the thick of things in the 115-pound division.

"It feels good to kind of get back to my roots," added VanZant. "I really, really miss MMA. I miss the UFC. This is my world and I belong in it and I'm really excited to get back into the cage."

The Team Alpha Male standout also explained her reasoning behind stepping away from Hollywood in preparation for her return to fighting.

"Fighting is definitely coming first," said VanZant. "Actually, I've recently declined to be in the "Kickboxer" movie because I want to be 100 percent for this fight and train 100 percent. That movie filming was kind of going to get in the way, we couldn't get a date set that worked with my fight schedule, so right now I'm 100 percent fight focused."

VanZant added that she would love to participate in anything the WWE was offering, but it would have to coincide with her ongoing UFC career.

"I love the WWE and if they ever reached out to me again I think I would definitely love to work with them," added VanZant.

UFC on FOX 21 does not yet have a main event, but a Featherweight tilt between Anthony Pettis and Charles Oliveira will also be part of the main card.

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