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Paige VanZant still waiting for haters to ‘talk s—t to my face’

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“PVZ” gets a lot of hate online, but strangely enough none of her doubters are willing to say much when they meet in person.

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After months of hype and lead-up, Paige VanZant’s Bare Knuckle FC debut is about to go down Feb. 5, 2021, at the promotion’s first ”Knucklemania” pre-Superbowl event. The former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter and “Dancing With The Stars” contestant will take on Britain Hart, who is 1-2 in BKFC and 2-6-2 overall in boxing.

It’s not seemingly the stiffest of competition for someone coming out of UFC, but even with the relatively soft matchmaking many are expecting VanZant to wilt in bareknuckle competition the moment she takes that first fist to the face. There’s been no shortage of detractors, but as Paige reveals in a new TMZ Sports interview, all the hate mysteriously only comes via the Internet.

No one has the balls to criticize her to her face ...

“You know what, I feel like the majority of my career — and I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately — why have I kept my mouth shut about all the haters and all the hate and negativity I get?” she asked. “Because my idea was: if you talk s—t about somebody, then you should be willing to say it to their face. And not a single person who has said anything negative about me publicly has been willing to say it to my face. And I’ve seen people in person.”

“And for me, all the negativity about, ‘Oh my face’ ... like, grow up! It’s a face and it’s mine and I can do whatever I want with it! And guess what? I’m still gonna be beautiful even if I get cut open. It’s not a big deal. That’s so condescending to think it’s just my beauty that’s important.”

VanZant moved to American Top Team’s Florida location at the end of 2020 and credits the coaching staff there for giving her a new passion for combat sports in general. A return to mixed martial arts (MMA) in the future, she says, is totally possible given the way her Bare Knuckle FC contract is structured.

“BKFC did give me the liberty in my contract to be able to take an MMA fight,” she told TMZ Sports. “I was informed of that by my manager and I didn’t know that at first. But after when we were getting into it my manager was like, ‘Oh you know you have that freedom.’ At first I was like, ‘nah I just wanna do the boxing.’ But, coming to American Top Team, it kind of rebirthed my excitement. I now realize how good I am.

“I’m training with these coaches that believe in me,” she continued. “Having them say they believe in me, and they train some of the best fighters in the entire world. And they look at me and believe that I’m good. So that sparks passion all over the place. So yeah, maybe I will take an MMA fight. I’m strictly focused on the boxing right now, especially for this fight, it’s all I do. But, maybe, we’ll see. The door is open so it’s definitely there.”

VanZant is 0-0 in boxing and 8-5 MMA (5-4 UFC) and coming off a quick first round submission to Flyweight prospect Amanda Ribas. Injuries and less than cordial relations with UFC have resulted in her fighting just four times in the past four years. Now that she’s a much bigger fish in smaller ponds, we imagine she’ll have a lot more options put in front of her, in both bareknuckle boxing and MMA.

You can watch Bare Knuckle FC’s Knucklemania event this weekend through FITE.TV right here.