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‘Strong, beautiful’ Paige VanZant has a message for the ‘morons’ who criticize her swimsuit spread

Web Summit 2018 In Lisbon Photo by Sam Barnes /Web Summit via Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) flyweight sensation, Paige VanZant, has done more than enough to prove she’s a legitimate mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter (like this), and not just another pretty face hoping to use combat sports superstardom to launch her next career.

But she’s certainly not going to pass on those opportunities along the way.

That’s why “12 Gauge” has been seen strutting her stuff outside the Octagon as a finalist on Dancing with the Stars, one of many pop culture endeavors that also includes Chopped! and a new swimsuit spread in Sports Illustrated.

It’s a new era, according to the former strawweight.

“I’ve been pushing these opportunities to the side. I can only hide so much of my girliness. I’ve been turning down opportunities because I do want people to see me as a professional fighter,” VanZant told Fansided. “I’m done with that. I’m going to 100 percent be myself. There is this new era of being strong and beautiful. The die-hard fight fans can complain that I’m doing things like Sports Illustrated but it’s who I am and I absolutely loved it.”

VanZant also shut down the “morons” who think she’s a model masquerading as a fighter.

“There is not a lot of loyalty,” she told Shakiel Mahjouri. “The true fans support me in any endeavor and they like me as a person. I don’t think there should be any question about my fight career at this point. I’ve broken my arm twice. Maybe I don’t look like a professional fighter but, hey, I was born this way. Call my mom and dad.”

VanZant (8-4) holds a 5-3 record inside the Octagon and is coming off a submission win over Rachael Ostovich at UFC Fight Night 143 back in January. She was expected to return to the cage this summer; however, another arm injury had benched her until further notice.

For video of her Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot click here.

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