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Paige VanZant’s bare-knuckle future ‘up in the air’ — ‘She wants to go back to MMA’

BKFC presents KnuckleMania Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Paige VanZant may be going back to MMA.

The former UFC strawweight, who also competed at 125 pounds, said goodbye to cage fighting after a dreadful run that saw “12 Gauge” lose four of her last six. But plans to jumpstart her combat sports career fell flat after two consecutive defeats in the bareknuckle arena, including last summer’s unanimous decision loss to former UFC rival Rachael Ostovich.

And there’s no guarantee that VanZant will stay the course.

“We spoke to her management team and honestly it’s up in the air,” BKFC President David Feldman told MMA Fighting. “We’re not 100 percent sure she’ll be back with BKFC. It looks like she will but at the end of the day, if her heart and her passion is she wants to give MMA another shot, we may give her that opportunity. I’m not here to hold anybody back.”

VanZant, 27, was the UFC “It Girl” for the first couple of years under Dana White and Co.; however, that relationship eventually soured after “12 Gauge” started to rack up losses — and complain to the media about the state of fighter pay.

Which is why a jump to Bellator MMA seems more probable, where husband Austin Vanderford has already racked up five wins in as many appearances.

“She started in MMA,” Feldman continued. “Her husband fights for Bellator. If she wants to go fight with her husband … like I said, we’ll see what happens. I know that she definitely wants to go back to MMA. She always did. Even when she came over to bare-knuckle, I knew that was going to come up, and with her not able to taste victory yet in BKFC, maybe she wants to go over there.”

A decision is expected in the next couple of days.

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