Paige VanZant Proves She’s Beyond ‘TUF’

Written by Tom Ngo
November 24th, 2014

UFC Paige VanZant

UFC president Dana White claimed the “next Ronda Rousey” was on this season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Now that the 20th edition of the reality show is coming to an end, it’s becoming more apparent that White was likely referring to Rose Namajunas.

However, there’s one fighter who was supposed to compete on TUF 20 that could easily be the face of the UFC’s newest division.

Paige VanZant (pictured) made her UFC debut this Saturday in spectacular fashion by posting a TKO victory over Kailin Curran. VanZant (and Curran) also pocketed an additional $50,000 for Fight of the Night.

VanZant is only 20 years old, one year under the limit for TUF contestants, so she was pulled from the show but offered a spot on the UFC’s roster, nonetheless. So instead of having to drudge through the cattiness of the TUF house for weeks on end, VanZant leapfrogged the entire process and went right to work in a fight that counts.

“I definitely proved myself in this fight,” VanZant stated at the UFC Fight Night 57 post-fight press conference. “I proved that I didn’t need to be on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ to make a name for myself, and I’m really excited to fight whoever comes out of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ house as soon as possible.

“There’s a lot of girls in that house that I would match myself up with – one of the standout fighters was Tecia Torres, and she’s my only loss. I’m excited to maybe get that rematch with her, or whoever comes out of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ house, or the belt holder whenever that happens.”

Although VanZant realizes she literally missed a golden opportunity to be on TUF and emerge as the UFC’s first strawweight champion, she’s convinced things worked out for the best.

“I found my new training camp and I’ve been able to really set myself on the tracks that I needed to be in to win my fights,” she added. “I have a much better mindset going into the fights now. I feel like I’ve had the best trianing camp of my life.

“I wouldn’t change it for the world. It was bittersweet not being able to be on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ house. I was really fortunate that I was considered for such a great thing, but this ended up being the best thing for me. I just can’t wait to see where I go next.”

Don’t forget to follow @5thRound on Twitter, Facebook and Google+!