Not too long ago, not many people were convinced about women participating in mixed martial arts. With the growth of the sport, the women weren’t left behind; what is now termed as the women’s revolution began, first with Ronda Rousey in the UFC, who is now one of the biggest stars in the world. There is one other athlete who is quickly becoming a household name, and she is none other than Paige VanZant.
Paige will be fighting Alex Chambers at UFC 191, and the strawweight fighter, in the past few months, has become one of the most recognizable faces in the sport. We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Paige, and discuss about her meteoric rise, and her thoughts on a few matters in an exclusive interview.
Paige VanZant on Ronda Rousey
Paige had only good things to say about Ronda Rousey, and when asked about her rise to fame, and one day achieve the level of superstardom that Ronda has achieved, Paige said, “I love all the attention. I’m really happy that I get to perform on such a huge platform. The fans are a huge reason that I’m able to keep going in this sport and stay positive through how hard this sport is. So, I love all the attention, and I can’t wait; I hope I can be as big as Ronda Rousey one day.”
Paige defeated a veteran and a fighter she looks up to in her last fight, Felice Herrig. Talking about how she felt, Paige added, “It was amazing (to beat Felice). Before the fight, I was very nervous; I look up to her as a fighter. She was someone who, when I started my very first day at a gym, she already held belts in other promotions. So looking up to her, it was a huge mountain for me to climb, and I knew that I was in the right path. I am good, and I’m here for a reason.”
Paige also expressed confidence about going to the ground with Chambers. “I think going to the ground with her will definitely test my jiu jistu, but I’m confident when I go to the ground. We have an amazing wrestling team (Team Alpha Male), and we’re known for our wrestlers, so I do think I’ll be very comfortable on the ground, and when you’re getting hit in the face, it is a lot harder to pull off a submission.”
Paige on the Strawweight division and fighting in India
Talking about the UFC Strawweight champion, Joanna and her dominance, Paige admitted that Joanna was arguably the best fighter in the division. “I think she’s a great fighter, and I definitely think she’s going to stay at the top for a very long time. I would love to fight her one day, and I can’t wait to get that opportunity. But I’m going to take my time; I’m fighting girls who have 10+ years on me, and are much older than me. So I’m going to take my time. I’m going to be in this sport for a very long time, so the opportunity will come, and when it does, I’ll be ready for her.”
Paige also had a message for her fans in India, and what she thought about coming down to India in the near future. “I love that I have fans in India. I would want to go there one day, and maybe we can fight there someday. I want to put on a good show for the fans.”
You can catch UFC 191 on the 6th of September, at 7:30 AM live and exclusive on Sony SIX and Sony KIX. The card will be headlined by Johnson and Dodson for the UFC Flyweight title, and will also feature Andrei Arlovski – Frank Mir in a heavyweight clash.