Winner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship for Fight of the Night, Paige VanZant, 23, is a mixed martial artist and she is best known for her performance in the Women’s Strawweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Multi talented, Paige VanZant was born as Paige Sletten in the early 1994 in Dundeen, Oregon, United States of America to Rachel VanZant and Steve VanZant. She grew up in Dayton, Oregon. She was raised in a musical family.
Besides earning a name of mixed martial artist, Paige is also sweet and lovely in her looks. She also came in second place in last season’s Dancing With The Stars. But despite her popularity in the world, she has been maintaining her personal profile low and secret. Information about her affairs and boyfriend is not known in the media. Her nationality is American and she is of white ethnicity. She is five feet and four inches tall in her height.
As her parents owned a dance studio when she was child, she induced her interest in dancing during her young age. She grew up dancing ballet, jazz, and hip hop for several years. She grew up being a tomboy and her childhood dream were riding dirt bikes and fishing. She also appeared on the TV commercials of Bissell. As she was often bullied by girls while she was in her high school, she decided to practice martial artist and defend herself. During her mid teens, she met UFC veteran Ken Shamrock and she began training in boxing and other martial arts in his gym. She won her first amateur fight at the age of 18 and she finally made her MMA debut fighting against Jordan Nicole Gaza on 30th of June 2012.
In the early 2013, she competed against Tecia Torres at Invicta FC 4: Esparza vs. Hyatt but she lost this match via a unanimous decision. At the end of 2013, she signed a contract with Ultimate Fighting Championship and she began fighting on The Ultimate Fighter in the Strawweight division. However, few months later sad got aired in the media as it was claimed that she won’t be competing in the reality series as the minimum age to competed in this reality series is 21 but she was 20 during that time. She made her UFC debut at the end of 2014 at UFC Fight Night: Edgar vs. Swanson. She won her debut match against Curran and she was and she was honored the Fight of the Night honors during that night. In the early 2015, she competed against Felice Herrig and she won this competition by unanimous decision.
The following is an upclose and personal chat the stunning Paige VanZant.
How did you get into kicking ass and where did you get the name 12-Gauge?
I grew up kind of backyard boxing with my brother and all the neighborhood kids. I think fighting was always in my blood. I grew up in the country so I rode dirt bikes and hunted. That’s where I got my name – 12 Gauge. There was something about fighting that kind of stuck.
Are men intimidated by you?
It’s hard for me to go out there and meet guys because I’m at the gym every single day and that’s pretty much the only time I’m ever around guys. So, I do think that men are intimidated, but it’s not really something I’m looking for right now.
You’ve got a lot going on for someone who is relatively new to the UFC. You’ve got the Reebok deal, other sponsorships, tons of press, Dancing With The Stars success and TMZ loves you from what I see. How do you stay focused on what’s in front of you and keep all of those future accolades and ambitions in check? You could have a lot more stardom if you continue along this path.
For me, it’s really easy to stay focused. I want to continue on this path and continue to rise as an athlete. Nothing else.
What’s your mindset going into a fight?
When I’m training, I cater a little bit to my opponents. Going into a fight, I adapt to each opponent, but for this one, I’ve been training as hard as I can. I have been working to get better in every aspect of my fight game and then go in there and do what I do best. I looke at her strengths and then tried to adapt to those.
It seems like a lot of the times you’re talked about online it’s “she’s beautiful AND she can fight”. Like the fighting is secondary. How do you feel about that?
I don’t know. I guess they’re giving me a complement, so thanks.
Do you ever think about the males in the UFC and if they were talked about the same way. Like imagine Anderson Silva’s looks were mentioned first and then the fact that he’s been a legendary MMA fighter.
Haha…I think we could hear that about Luke Rockhold; I think he gets that too. For me, it doesn’t feel like I’m doing anything different or weird. I don’t know how I feel about it. I just know that I want to keep growing and gaining fans and winning fights.
You’ve got the Reebok sponsorship now but it looks like you’ve been involved in their other big endeavor as well, CrossFitting as part of your MMA training. How long have you been doing it and how does it help you in the Octagon?
It’s something I’ve recently grown towards. I started before my first UFC fight. That’s when I started getting intense with it. I have a great gym in Reno – Double Edge CrossFit – and then I have a really good gym here too (in Sacramento) – MVMNT CrossFit. It definitely helps me. CrossFit is just another thing I’ve become passionate about. I like to continue to make gains and compete with myself. There’s many ways to do that either with adding weight or competing with my own times or my previous records. It’s been nothing but a benefit to me and I love lifting weights.
How specifically have you noticed your game – either your fighting, your body or your cardio – change since you started CrossFit?
My training partners tell me there’s a difference. I have a lot of training partners that have noticed that I’ve gotten a lot stronger. Now I put a lot more power behind my punches. CrossFit has definitely helped with strength – a lot. I see that as the main benefit.
What’s your least favorite CrossFit exercise or workout? I’m a CrossFit addict now too and I personally hate doing those inchworms warmups.
Hmmm…yeah, I hate doing wallballs. They’re really annoying. That’s one that I hate doing.
What else is part of your preparation for this fight in terms of training?
I’m pretty much just doing what I do before any fight. I’m training hard, making sure I make it to all of my classes at the gym, I get private coaching with a few coaches at the gym, I work out a lot. Not a lot has changed.
Talk about your diet. Is there anything unique you’re doing during the preparations to fight?
I try to eat healthy for the most part. When I cut weight, I cut pretty much everything out. I don’t have protein when I cut weight other than what I might get from something like chicken breast. So I don’t eat any extra protein just because I’m trying to get the weight off. That’s the only real diet I have.
And what’s your binge meal after the fight?
I love Thai food, Mexican food, pizza…wings are good. It’s not a set routine. It’s been different every time and I eat a lot of different stuff.
You always smile before a fight. Why don’t you snarl like everyone else?
Girls can be catty, and that’s just something you prepare for. And you know, that’s not something that I have to have, I guess. I’m not that type of person. But going into fights, some people do have to be frustrated at their opponent. They have to be mad to be able to fight somebody. But for me, I’m just in love with this sport and I’m just really competitive, I would say. So, I love fighting, but I go in there to win.
You said that one of your dream jobs would be a NASCAR driver. Why?
Oh, gosh! I haven’t been able to watch that much NASCAR this year, but I’ve been fortunate enough to go to a NASCAR event and I got to be down in the garage and on pit road, right in front, see all action and see how fast those cars were going. Seeing it on TV, it doesn’t really do NASCAR justice. It was so exciting, and watching Danica Patrick race, it was amazing. There was such a thrill and a rush behind it.
When exactly did you go to the track?
It was two years ago, and at Las Vegas. It was amazing.
Did you watch the sport growing up, or race go-karts or dirt bikes or anything like that?
I got my first dirt bike when I was 8, so I’ve been riding dirt bikes and four wheelers my whole life. It’s something really fun and something I was passionate about. I was not able to actually race, though, my dad thought it was a little too dangerous …
Your dad thought that was too dangerous?
He did! And now I am a professional fighter, and he’s OK with it. But riding dirt bikes and four wheelers was one of my favorite things to do with my family, so I’ve always enjoyed it.
How does winning fights change your life?
A lot of things have happened, and a lot of opportunities have come my way. Right now I’m in Los Angeles doing really fun things here, and I’m now sponsored by Reebok. But after a fight I like to relax and recover.
Do you have another fight booked, or does that not come until after your most recent one?
You kind of wait until after you fight. You just take them one at a time because it depends on where you move in the rankings. After I won against Felice, I actually jumped up five spots in the rankings, I went from 12th to seventh. It’s exciting. For now, I’m going to wait and see what UFC thinks for my next fight. My management team will help decide what’s next. I’m still very young, and I want to make sure I do it right.
How has your life changed in the past nine months or so?
I would say the last 2 years has really been a huge change. I signed with UFC and that’s been the biggest change. There’s a lot more drive to be the best athlete I can be. It’s such an amazing corporation, and has opened doors because it’s such a big stage and has allowed me to show off everything that I’ve trained for.
How have you changed from a person from the first time you stepped into a cage?
I started a sport just to be in a sport. Not to make it a career, not because I wanted to go into other things through fighting. I just found it really fun and it was a huge challenge for me. After I won my first amateur fight, I figured I would do fighting on the side while I was going to school. I got an offer after that amateur fight to take a professional fight. The opponent kind of wanted to have an easy win for her pro debt, and they said they’d pay me $1,500. I was like, ‘Yeah might as well get paid for what I was doing.’ I took the pro fight on a wing and a prayer. I wanted to win obviously, but the outcome wasn’t important to me.
Then I ended up winning the fight. Right after I got my hand raised, I was like, ‘This is what I want to do. Be a professional fighter.’ “
There was some rumors that you might make an appearance at a WWE event. Well?
Yeah, I did have an offer to do that and I also had a movie offer and I turned them both down. I’m just focuses on fighting and keeping my life in balance. There will be plenty of opportunities for movies later.
Can I ask what that movie was?
Yeah, it was a kick boxing movie with Jean Claude Van Dam.
Would you consider playing a super hero in your first movie?
I would love to play a super hero! Maybe even a super villian! That would be such a stretch for me.
Who has influenced you the most:
Once I found fighting, I knew I had to follow in Ronda’s [Ronda Rousey] footsteps. I saw her career develop from the ground stages. Ronda’s really opened the doors for women’s MMA. Dana [Dana White] said there would never be women in the UFC and because of Ronda, there now are, and I have to be completely thankful for her. And if she wouldn’t have created such an amazing 135 division, then it wouldn’t have opened the doors for the 115 division.
Would you be interested in Ronda Rousey or a rematch with Felice?
I would fight anybody for the right amount of money. I would even fight Conor McGregor for the right amount of money.
You talk about being bullied as a young girl. Can you tell us more about that?
I was bullied a lot in high school and I think a lot of that had to do with, I guess, my looks. Going back, I wouldn’t change it because it made me stronger. I’m too strong for them to shake me.I really hope to inspire young girls, especially being someone who was very bullied. I had to quit high school because it was so bad. Part of me wants them to see all my successes just to show that they couldn’t break me. But I want to be just a voice. I want to show girls, no matter how bad it is, there is a light at the end of the tunnel… there really is. Whatever happens in middle school and high school, those sorts of things, it may seem like your world is crashing down, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And there’s going to be good things that come from those traumatic experiences. MN