Per Ariel Helwani of ESPN, former UFC flyweight Paige VanZant has signed a multi-fight deal with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships.
Popular MMA star Paige VanZant has officially left the UFC and signed with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) in free agency. Per ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, VanZant’s deal is worth over a million dollars and is significantly more than what she was being paid in the UFC. No word yet on when she will make her debut although a date in November is being targeted.
PVZ is heading to BKFC 👊
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) August 12, 2020
“12 Gauge” Paige VanZant entered free agency last month after a six year run in the UFC. Entering as one of the youngest fighters on the roster at 20 years old, VanZant was quickly pushed by the promotion by being put on national television on FOX as early as her second fight in the company and being chosen for an exclusive Reebok deal at around the same time. VanZant quickly turned her stardom into crossover opportunities with appearances on Dancing with the Stars, Chopped, and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. VanZant leaves the UFC with an 8-5 record overall.
VanZant joins BKFC to much surprise as many felt the young flyweight would join Bellator MMA, where husband Austin Vanderford currently competes. Despite coming off a loss and being inactive due to multiple arm injuries, VanZant’s star power made her one of the most desired free agents on the market following the completion of her UFC contract in July.
Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship has quickly emerged as a unique player in the combat sports scene since their inception in 2018. Originally seen as a potential avenue for fighters who were not finding immediate opportunities in the bigger promotions, BKFC found their footing by putting on unique matchups. Most notably, the company paired up UFC veteran Artem Lobov and former boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi for a bout after previous discord in Conor McGregor‘s training camp for Floyd Mayweather. The promotion is also no stranger to holding women’s fights with UFC veteran and current Bellator fighter Bec Rawlings becoming a breakout star and winning the BKFC title.