Are we now so overly sensitive that a young twenty-something girl being flirty on the internet offends us?
UFC strawweight Paige VanZant unwittingly (and undeservedly) set off a firestorm Sunday. Her supposed faux pas? She posted a video to Twitter (since deleted, but you can view it below) showing off a little skin while modeling the latest Reebok sportswear. It was flirty, it was sexy, it was done because she’s sponsored by the company.
It was even unintentionally funny when she suggested guys purchase the relatively sexy sportswear for their moms. Well, Mother’s Day is coming up!
Check out the video below, thanks to quick-thinking Twitter user Rob Young who captured it:
by popular demand pic.twitter.com/VvjIfVd6ly
— Rob Young (@polyh3dron) April 30, 2017
Given the explicit nature of the internet, you’d think the relatively tame video would go unnoticed, especially given VanZant has done a fair bit of modeling photoshoots in the past. Some of which were, shall we say, hotter than this one. In any case, it wasn’t PornHub. It wasn’t even Playboy, or Maxim (speaking of, they got in on the story as well).
Sadly, apparently some folks can’t handle a pretty girl using her status as a pretty girl to push a product. What’s bizarre is that includes folks who should be all for fighters getting paid.
Shortly after VaZant (7–3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) posted the video, she was taken to task by fellow fighters, fans, and eventually certain media outlets. For the apparent crime of making some sponsor money, and looking good doing it. Former Invicta FC champ Angela Hill was first out of the gate:
Just call 1-800-HOT-GIRL and talk to real live girls. We can't frickin wait to answer your call. Call now! https://t.co/HIJlbhhOCN
— Angela Hill (@AngieOverkill) April 30, 2017
Hill later suggest that she’d “get a blonde wig and do some molly before I walk out” when asked by a fan to do her next weigh in dressed up as the Dancing with the Stars veteran. No idea where the molly (MDMA) drug reference came from. Clearly, she was likening VanZant to a phone sex girl, which is a bit much.
Now, Hill is a solid fighter who put up a spirited defense against Jessica Andrade in Hill’s return to the UFC earlier this year. That said, Hill (6–3) has just a single win in the UFC, and if you were to Google her name, the first image that comes up is her modeling… a bikini, while flexing her guns.
Somewhere, the kettle is scolding the pot for calling it black. Maybe this is just an angle to book a fight. Hill vs. VanZant doesn’t have that bad a ring to it, given their respective records, and it might put Hill on the map in the UFC after she turned her career around in Invicta.
Lauren Murphy (9–3) took things further, calling VanZant slutty (in context, she stated she’d rather be “salty than slutty”). Eventually, Paige deleted the video from twitter. Then the media got in on the action: the usual MMA hubs ran stories. The mainstream press took notice, not because VanZant is pretty (she is, but there are lots of pretty girls in MMA, and this particular hubbub is fairly petty), but because she’s a media darling thanks to Dancing with the Stars and Food Network’s Chopped. Maxim, Uproxx, Fox News, The New York Post, on and on the wheel of attention turned.
Some sites defended her. “Slut shaming” was uttered (which would imply that the video somehow makes VanZant a slut, which is pretty much the dumbest concept ever). Others suggested she was on her way out of the UFC after having lost two of her last three fights. That, of course, ignores her overall record and popularity.
One thing each and every article did was ignore the key, underlying situation here, and that’s double standards.
VanZant is not the first MMA fighter to use sex to push their careers forwards. Her most recent opponent is known as the Karate Hottie, after all, and for good reason. It’s not hard to find Michelle Waterson’s modeling work on Google Images. Nor is it hard to find Felice Herrig’s weigh in outfits, and if you thought that VanZant video was racy, stay far far away from Angela Magana’s Twitter lest it overwhelm your poor, chaste heart.
VanZant just happens to be one of the more popular UFC stars, despite being nowhere near a title shot. She’s an “It” girl, and certain people like to pretend that she’s not deserving of the attention. Despite, you know, having a bunch of wins in the premiere MMA promotion on the planet.
And why the uproar in the end given the video was about a sponsor, and nothing to do with an actual fight?
Think about it. Ronda Rousey used sex appeal when it suited her. So to did Miesha Tate. Both wore UFC gold. In fact there’s a question as to whether women would be fighting in the UFC were Rousey not an attractive woman in addition to a dominant (at the time) athlete. It’s not right — you shouldn’t have to go the looks route to get respect as a fighter — but nor should you have a strip torn off you for using a little sexuality to help a sponsor.
Seriously, are there any adults on this Internet thing? It’s pretty basic business.
Breaking news (to the MMA world apparently): pretty girls get oodles of attention, and have been known to use that for financial gain. More details at eleven.
Meanwhile, apparently the entire MMA community missed the point of Tecia Torres’ message a few days back. It certainly applies to this Paige VanZant commotion: