Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) flyweight sensation, Paige VanZant, has just one fight remaining on her current deal, and plans on fulfilling it before inking a contract extension with the world’s pre-eminent mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion.
Not because she’s flirting with other organizations, like Bellator MMA and ONE Championship, but rather because “12 Gauge” wants to prove to Dana White and Co. that she’s as valuable to the brand inside the cage as she is outside the cage.
Despite this pesky injury setbacks.
“I make way more money sitting at home, posting pictures on Instagram, than I do fighting,” VanZant told Ariel Helwani. “When I did my contract negotiation the last time, the talk was, “I can’t pay you more than a female champion.’ Okay, but why are comparing me to just women? All of us should be getting paid more in general.”
UFC pay has been a hot-button issue for most of the modern era, resulting in fighter lawsuits and mass defections. Heck, even White agrees that today’s fighters are likely to find better deals outside of MMA, which is why VanZant may end up exploring free agency.
“I want a significant pay raise, to be completely honest,” VanZant said. “I’ve just been extremely accomplished outside of the UFC, as well as inside of the UFC. Five wins in the UFC, four finishes, I've been main event twice, and I think someone with those accolades should be paid more.”
VanZant was able to score an independent Reebok sponsorship earlier in her UFC career, thanks to the “It” factor and some promotional muscle from White. That well has since dried up and “12 Gauge” has to now rely on outside interests for the bulk of her income.
Unless UFC has other plans after VanZant’s next (and final?) fight.