Without question, Paige VanZant (pictured) is the best UFC fighter … to ever compete on “Dancing With The Stars.”
VanZant left UFC Hall of Famers Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture, who appeared on previous seasons of the popular dancing show, in her rear-view mirror weeks ago when it comes to ballroom blitzing.
VanZant burst out of the tiny MMA bubble and onto the mainstream with her breathtaking performances on DWTS. Although VanZant and partner Mark Ballas came up short in Tuesday’s finals against Nyle Dimarco, the UFC strawweight was plastered on millions of television sets for 10 straight weeks.
Week after week, Americans who had no idea of who PVZ was prior to the show continued to vote for the cute blonde who happens to be a cage fighter by day.
Paige VanZant is now a household name. That’s something that would have taken forever, if ever, had she remained merely a mixed martial artist, and that by itself is worth more than some tacky mirror ball trophy to put on her mantle.
When outsiders think of female MMA fighters, a person like Cris “Cyborg” Justino surely comes to mind. Former UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey certainly helped crush that stereotype before VanZant showed off her fancy feet, but Rousey has never come off as graceful or lovable.
VanZant broke down a huge barrier in showing the mainstream that MMA athletes aren’t brutal neanderthals. They can in fact look and act just like your hot next door neighbor.
On the power of her strong stint on DWTS, VanZant was signed to join the cast of the upcoming movie “Kickboxer: Retaliation,” the sequel to 1989’s “Kickboxer: Vengeanace” starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Unfortunately for fight fans, VanZant’s success outside of the cage might now affect the next time they’ll see her inside of it. The UFC was hoping to book her for their historic UFC 200 event on July 9, but her extended run on DWTS derailed that chatter long ago. Now that Hollywood is in play, “12 Gauge’s” return to the octagon is foggier than ever.
“I’m going to remember it forever,” a gracious VanZant said after Tuesday’s loss.
America won’t soon forget her, either.