Paige VanZant signs with BKFC, declines Bellator offer

Sport

Paige VanZant is going bare-knuckle in her next combat venture.

After finishing her contract with the UFC, the 26-year-old MMA star has chosen to sign with the upstart Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships, multiple people with knowledge of contract talks told MMA Fighting. Terms of VanZant’s multi-fight deal were not disclosed.

The news was first reported by ESPN.

VanZant on Wednesday posted a picture of her signing a contract, noting she is “about to change the game” and promising fight news “coming soon.”

BKFC and Bellator were two known suitors vying for VanZant after her departure from the UFC, which came one month after a first-round submission loss to Amanda Ribas at UFC 251. Bellator President Scott Coker told MMA Fighting VanZant declined an offer with the ViacomCBS-owned promotion, who has a contract with her husband, Austin Vanderford.

The Ribas fight was VanZant’s first in 18 months after a series of injury setbacks with her right arm, which was broken in January 2018 during a fight with Jessica-Rose Clark. In a recent interview with MMA Fighting, she said she would put off corrective surgery to make a quick turnaround in the cage for a “comeback story.”

“In my mind, I’m going to go ahead and delete that last fight and start over,” she said. “I don’t know how long this negotiation stuff goes. I’m hoping quick, cause I definitely don’t have any injuries. I don’t even know if I got hit, so I’m ready to fight again.”

VanZant has competed in the octagon as a strawweight and flyweight. BKFC’s current currently promotes a women’s division, whose champ, Bec Rawlings, lost to VanZant by KO in the UFC in 2016.