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Paige VanZant has methodically moved her way up the strawweight pecking order since her UFC debut last November in which she earned Fight of the Night honors. With a 6-1 record overall (3-0 in the UFC), VanZant’s popularity has rocketed just as UFC top-draw Ronda Rousey’s featherweight reign was rudely ended by Holly Holm’s left foot.

''I'm not someone who was meant to be in the background. I'm meant to be the star, and I knew that. I knew how tough I was. I knew how athletic I was. I knew I wanted to win.''

— Paige VanZant, MMA fighter


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No. 7-ranked VanZant’s upcoming fight with No. 3-ranked Rose Namajunas will serve as the main event for tomorrow’s UFC Fight Night 80 in Las Vegas. If VanZant can pull off the upset, she will likely be next in line for a heavily-promoted title fight with Joanna Jędrzejczyk.


VanZant, a self proclaimed girly-girl with a tomboy streak, was introduced by fate to the fighting game — she was looking for a dance studio when she stumbled upon Ken Shamrock’s MMA gym in Sparks, Nevada. Over the course of her relatively short fighting career, her Instagram account has already attracted half a million followers.

Born in Oregon, VanZant’s childhood was split between outdoorsy activities and time at her parent’s dance studio where she trained in ballet, jazz and hip hop. Her telegenic appeal has made her a valuable UFC commodity in the promotions ongoing efforts to broaden its appeal.

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Currently, VanZant trains in Sacramento, California, at Ultimate Fitness — home to Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male. Outside the gym, she enjoys kicking back with Dennis the Super Dog, who is frequently featured in her Instagram posts.