Just in case you had any doubts on the subject, Dana White confirmed it during the UFC 251 post-fight press conference: Don’t expect to see Paige “12 Gauge” VanZant back in UFC any time soon.
“PVZ” might be popular, charismatic, and always game to fight anyone. But she performed the cardinal sin as far as the promotion is concerned when she talked s**t about UFC’s pay grade. Then she dared to declare she planned on testing out free agency instead of signing a new UFC contract with one fight left.
So of course UFC pulled a classic bury move on her, placing her against the toughest opponent it could find. That meant recruiting Amanda Ribas from one weight class down to whup VanZant’s ass. The bookies saw what was up. By fight night, Ribas was a stunning -900 favorite. And 2:21 into the first round, Paige was tapping and that’s all she wrote.
“I like Paige,” White said during the post fight press conference. “I like Paige ... it’s like Blaydes, when Blaydes fought last. When you talk all that stuff, ‘I’m not being paid enough,’ you know? Fighting inconsistently, one time in the last year. Injuries, and then got smoked in the first round of the fight? She should definitely test free agency.”
Dana White likes Paige VanZant but think she should test free agency after #UFC251:— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) July 12, 2020
"You talk all that stuff about not being paid enough… Then got smoked in first round of the fight."
Watch full video: https://t.co/Os153VCibq pic.twitter.com/JDNzxIJGvD
After a 6-1 start to her mixed martial arts (MMA) career. including three straight wins in UFC, VanZant has struggled to string together wins, going 2-4 over the past five years. Multiple issues with a broken arm she suffered in a fight with Jessica-Rose Clark kept her largely out of the cage the last 2.5 years, and it’s a good thing she makes more money just pimping products on Instagram than from UFC because there wasn’t a whole lot of money rolling in from fighting.
While we expect a lot of offers to come in from other leagues, we’d be shocked if she ended up anywhere other than Bellator where her husband Austin Vanderford competes. And who knows what she’ll be able to accomplish without a vindictive promotional partner looking to minimize her popularity to keep her paycheck low? In that way Dana White is right: “PVZ” should definitely test free agency.