The final fight of Paige VanZant’s current UFC deal takes place at UFC 251 on July 11th against Amanda Ribas and afterwards the star has made it clear she’s determined to test her worth as a free agent.
“I have my heart set and nobody is going to change my mind that I’m fighting my contract out,” VanZant told ESPN. “I don’t know where my future lies – I truly don’t. I think that’s kind of an exciting thing in my life. I’ve been with the UFC for six years now, and through this time I’m still – which is crazy – on the same contract before I fought Rose (Namajunas) at 22 years old, and I’m 26 now.
“So somehow, through injury, being on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ being on TV, work I’ve done throughout all of this, I’ve been on the exact same contract since I was 22. That’s the contract I signed since I was 22. But I just feel like a regular extension isn’t what I want. I want to prove my worth and my value and I want a brand new contract. I’m really excited to get the opportunity and really test the free agency because how do you know what your value is unless you can go test it among the other sharks?”
With over 2.5 million fans on Instagram, PVZ has made a very lucrative career outside of fighting as an influencer who promotes a variety of brands, and as such she feels under no pressure to just accept a deal from the UFC that she feels doesn’t represent her worth as both a fighter and a star of the sport.
“So I make $46,000 (to show) and (another) $46,000 (to win),” VanZant said. “I’m not going to hide that because everyone knows. I can make way more money than that just promoting brands on Instagram, and that should say something.
“Why would I step away from all the amazing success that I have? I made more money on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ than I have in my entire UFC career combined – every fight, every win, every bonus. I love fighting. It’s what I love to do, and for this fight I dropped every single sponsor. I haven’t posted anything on Instagram. Nothing matters to me except this fight and it’s a clean slate for me.”
PVZ is an interesting case. On the one hand, she’s done exceptionally well to take advantage of all the opportunities that have come her way thanks to the exposure she’s received from being in the UFC, from Dancing With The Stars through to becoming an Instagram star, and as such she’s in a strong financial position to stand her ground now and seek the most lucrative fight deal she can get.
At the same time, there are reasons she’s still on the same pay level she was four years ago, and that’s largely down to the fact that she’s had a tough time with injuries, which has stunted her progress, leading to only two fights in the past 3-and-a-half years.
She’s also only won two of her five fights since her current deal began, so though she’s still young and definitely showed raw potential and genuine toughness in the Octagon, so she still has work to do to prove that she can stay healthy and put together a sustained run of form in the flyweight division.
Even so, there’s no denying she is one of the most recognisable and popular fighters in all of women’s MMA, and so wherever she ends up fighting, she’ll definitely be doing so for a lot more than just $45,000 to show, $45,000 to win.