Paige VanZant suffered a possible broken arm early in her flyweight bout against Jessica-Rose ‘Jessy Jess’ Clark at UFC St. Louis
The UFC’s favorite daughter, Paige VanZant, got back in the octagon at UFC St. Louis after over a year away on Sunday. The twenty-three year old missed all of 2017, in part due to injury. With an elevated profile thanks to appearances on reality TV shows Dancing with the Stars and Chopped, VanZant has been one of the bigger up-and-coming stars in the promotion.
Coming off a loss to Michelle Waterson at UFC on FOX 22, however, VanZant was looking to avoid the first losing streak of her career. Looking to spoil her rebound plans was Australia’s Jessica-Rose Clark. Dealing with a robbery and killing of her cat by those behind the crime, ‘Jessy Jess’ would have to shake off distractions outside the cage. She was also tasked with the opportunity to welcome VanZant to the UFC’s flyweight division.
VanZant stayed mobile early, and looked to land the jumping switch kick she nailed Bec Rawlings with. Clark took a more traditional approach, getting her hands going. Paige tried a superman punch then did manage to land a big kick to the body. The pair clashed, with Clark landing a counter right. Clark tried dropping down for a takedown, Paige seemed to get the better position then gave up the back. She was back to the feet quickly, however Clark tried a standing head and arm triangle, and forced VanZant back down, holding onto the submission. VanZant freed herself from the choke but was still on the bottom with Clark heavy on her. Clark worked for position, maintaining control, and rode out the round.
The second saw Clark continue to focus on her wrestling. Paige was able to escape to her feet from an early takedown, pulling her leg free. However that scramble led to another takedown. Clark was not making a lot of progress on the ground, though, earning a warning from the ref. VanZant was then able to reverse, only to find herself in a tight triangle. Paige initially sat down in it, but unleashed some punches to the head of Clark, surviving the round but down on the scorecards.
With Paige apparently having broken her right arm earlier in the bout (possibly off a spinning back fist), she came out faking with the limb and firing kicks to start the third. A jumping kick landed to the head of Clark, but not clean. Another high kick landed shortly after. Paige was circling away, hesitant to get into an exchange or be taken down. Clark finally got a counter combination fired off, but was mostly on the receiving end of VanZant’s attacks in the third. Paige won the round on two of the judge’s scorecards in the end, but lost the war. That said, VanZant may have quieted some of her critics by fighting through the injury, even in defeat.
Jessica-Rose Clark def. Paige VanZant by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
UPDATE, 1:30 AM EST: VanZant shared the following on social media, including an X-ray of the injury.
Well… I broke my arm in the first! I was able to finish the fight but as you can see, had a hard recovering and throwing my right. I’ll be back better and stronger than ever! 💪🏼🦁 it’s all apart of the fight game. God had other plans for me. 🙏🏼 darn spinning back fist. pic.twitter.com/v5DhSv5YxD
— Paige VanZant (@PaigeVanzantUFC) January 15, 2018