Paige VanZant Discusses Commentating Roles Ahead of Kinektic 1

Paige VanZant Kinektic
Paige VanZant with Kinektic co-founder Urijah Faber. Credit: UFC

Paige VanZant has dived headfirst into her role as a commentator as she prepares for the inaugural Kinektic event this Friday.

Everyone in the MMA world has seen Paige VanZant. She’s had eight UFC fights, spent 10 weeks on Dancing with the Stars, won one episode of Chopped, and as of this summer has now been a feature in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

Her latest venture is asking fans to listen and she has dived head first into it as she recovers from surgery on her arm in July. Earlier in April, it was announced that “12 Gauge” would be taking a commentator role for M-1 events held in the United States. This Friday, she will be getting back on the mic to serve as commentator for Kinektic, the team-based grappling competition co-founded by her former Team Alpha Male mentor Urijah Faber.

Following her work in April for M-1, VanZant reveals that she hasn’t watched the event but feels confident in her performance.

“I didn’t rewatch myself. I didn’t try to give myself directions. I was pretty good at feeling how it went in the moment and the way I was able to communicate with Sean (Wheelock). I took a lot of corrections from Sean Wheelock himself and that’s why I’m so excited to keep this partnership going, commentating alongside him again for this submission grappling show. I’m only going to get better from there. It just takes practice to get some magic going.”

Paige VanZant speaking with fans ahead of a UFC event. Credit: UFC

Paige VanZant is one of the most popular fighters on the UFC roster, which means that her fights are always a featured bout and talking point whenever she is on a card. Having listened to commentary of her own fights, and now her own experience on the mic, there is one thing she avoids when breaking down the action.

“I definitely want to go in there and really speak to everybody’s assets. You try not to speculate too much about what’s going on. You just try to explain what’s going on, what everyone brings to the table, and what skill-sets they have. A lot of times when commentators will speculate on what I’m doing, later I’ll be like ‘Well actually that was not what I was doing.’ So I really make it based out of information, knowledge, and make it very factual to explain to the audience what’s going on.”

Over the years, she’s had plenty of co-workers to watch and listen to in the UFC and now identifies what makes them excellent at the desk.

“There are different commentators that I just love the way they commentate.  Paul Felder is one of them. I think Paul Felder has stepped into the light of commentary relatively recently but he is amazing and I just love the way he breaks things down for people. Michael Bisping is amazing, I love his commentary. Everybody who commentates on the UFC roster brings something awesome to the table, still keeping their personality, using the knowledge that they have and the background that they have in fighting and using it to commentate makes it that much better.”

Going into Friday, Kinektic is hoping to capitalize on all of the attention that is on UFC 241 the following night. The team-based grappling competition will feature four teams, coached by MMA stars Anthony Smith, Chael Sonnen, Chris Lytle, and BJJ expert Craig Jones. Each team will consist of five grapplers and each match between teams will be eight minutes long. After each match, the winning grappler will stay on the mat while the opposing grappler is eliminated from the competition. The coach of the losing grappler will then select another athlete to compete against the winner of the previous match. The team with the last grappler standing will be declared the winner.  Finally, each event will have a “Super Fight” that will feature two grapplers not in the tournament.

While commentators are expected to provide an unbiased breakdown of the match, VanZant admits slight favoritism for the team coached by her friend Chael Sonnen.

“Oh my gosh. Of course I would love for Chael to take it. Anytime it’s someone you’re teammates with you have an emotional connection. I’m just excited to see a good fight. I’m excited to see good matches. Chael’s not competing so as far as competitors I personally don’t have any stake in the game.  I’m just so much more critical of my teammates and I always think they have to push the whole extra mile to even take the win. So I think it’s going to be really awesome and I’m just going to explain what’s going on, who is good at what. I think it makes a commentator better when they know specifically who’s competing, what skillset they have and they can have some background on who’s out there.”

As for a return to her fighting career, Paige VanZant says that patience is still the name of the game after recovering from arm surgery in July.

“The arm is feeling great, I go to the doctor on Wednesday. I’m hoping for some good news. I get a CT scan so I’m hoping to be cleared to start training but I won’t have any word on anything until then. It’s just taking everything really easy, babying my arm, so fingers crossed for good news on Wednesday.”

Kinektic 1 will take place on Friday, August 16 at the Business Expo Center in Anaheim, California.

Announced Teams for Kinektic 1:

*Note: Super-Fight TBD

TEAM BJJ FANATICS (Captain Craig Jones)
Jake Shields
Nicky Rodriguez
Edwin Najmi
Lachian Giles
Craig Jones

Rico Rodriguez
Joe “Diesel” Riggs
Mansher “Munch” Khera
Will Weed
Chris “Lights Out” Lytle

TEAM SUG (Captain Chael Sonnen)
Gabriel “Zangief” Barbosa Checco
Rafael Domingos
Alexandre “Capitao” Almeidia
Ronny Markes
“Vicious” Vinny Magalhaes

TEAM LIONHEART (Captain Anthony Smith)
Brian Sparrow
Joseph “The Baddest Man on the Planet” Warren
Scott Morton
James Brasco
Enrico “Teen Phenom” Cocco