Fighter pay has always been a hot topic of discussion in mixed martial arts (MMA), specifically in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) universe. But ever since Jon Jones revealed that he’d be vacating his Light Heavyweight title after a financial dispute with UFC, fighters expressing their grievances with the promotion has been the new norm.
The latest fighter to mention the low-paying check stubs earned from the promotion is Paige VanZant. While “12 Gauge” wasn’t exactly slamming UFC or flat-out demanding an increase in salary, she did tell ESPN’s Ariel Helwani that she made more money during her stint on “Dancing with the Stars” than she has in all eight of her UFC fights ... combined.
Not to mention she makes a lot more money on Instagram than getting punched in the face, too.
“Everyone knows how much I make,” she said. “So I make $46,000 to fight. $46,000 (show) and $46,000 (win bonus). I’m not going to hide that because everybody knows. I can make way more money than that just promoting brands on Instagram. That should say something.
“Why would I step away from all the amazing success I had on Dancing with the Stars?” she continued. “I made more money on Dancing with the Stars than I have in my entire UFC career combined. Every fight, every win, every bonus. And it just shows that the money is out there.”
So as she heads into what could be her final fight for the promotion at UFC 251 against Amanda Ribas on July 11, 2020, VanZant is ready to put it all on the line. That said, she doesn’t feel her value will be affected one way or the other if she leaves “Fight Island” with a win, loss or a draw since she has her name to fall back on.
“I want to prove myself. I want to prove how good I am. I know how hard I’ve worked. So, no, the pressure isn’t higher, and I do truly feel my value doesn’t change, whether I win or lose,” she said in a recent interview with ESPN. “I still have set myself up for success, and I will still forever be Paige VanZant, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to go out there and fight to die. This fight matters more to me than any fight in my entire life. I’m willing to put it all out there.”
Indeed, VanZant has shown that she has crossover appeal thanks to her “it” factor and run on “DWTS,” which saw her come ever-so close to winning it all, losing out to Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd in the finals.
Still, VanZant is looking for a brand new contract (not an extension) from UFC or another promotion. And she is more than willing to prove her worth as she has one fight remaining on her current UFC deal.
“I just feel like a regular extension isn’t what I want, and I want to prove my worth and my value — and I want a brand-new contract. And I’m really excited to get that opportunity and really test the free agency because how do you know what your value is unless you can go test it amongst all the other sharks?”
VanZant got back in the win column in her last outing, defeating Rachael Ostovich at UFC Fight Night 143 in Jan. 2019, snapping her two-fight losing streak. Since that win, her comeback was stalled because of ongoing issues with her arm.
VanZant is currently represented by First Round Management, the same firm that represents Jon Jones and Jorge Masvidal, another man who recently had a go with the promotion regarding pay.