The naked truth: Paige VanZant set to return to action on UFC's 'Fight Island' at UFC 251 – but will she get exposed?
Since arriving in the UFC in 2014 and reeling off three consecutive wins, VanZant's career has been a stuttering succession of setbacks.
She has won just twice since the end of 2015, picking up wins over Bec Rawlings and Rachael Ostovich. But she has also suffered a hat-trick of defeats to Rose Namajunas, Michelle Waterson and Jessica-Rose Clark.
She's also suffered from injury woes, too, with a back injury ruling out a fight with Jessica Eye and a fractured arm seeing her planned bout with Brazil's Amanda Ribas canceled earlier this year before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
During her time away from the cage, VanZant and her husband, Bellator middleweight contender Austin Vanderford, have kept her fans entertained on social media through a series of racy posts featuring the couple naked at their house and in their home gym.Also on rt.com American Sweetheart: 5 times Paige VanZant broke the internet (PHOTOS)
But while some of VanZant's fans are enjoying her flashing the flesh with her other half, fight fans are more keen to see VanZant back in the cage and proving her worth inside the octagon.
VanZant's initial fame came from her ability to step into the cage and fight, and those credentials will be put to the test once again on July 11 when she faces Ribas in a rearranged matchup on Abu Dhabi's Yas Island.
The fight is certainly no gimme assignment for the photogenic flyweight. Ribas has a better record, and is in much better form. She's also been significantly more active than VanZant over recent months.
While VanZant has been rehabbing her arm and posting racy snaps on Instagram, Ribas has been winning fights inside the octagon. The bubbly Brazilian has fought three times in the UFC since her arrival on the big stage last summer, and has won all three of her fights so far.
Wins over Emily Whitmire, Mackenzie Dern and Randa Markos have shown that Ribas is a fighter who is capable of standing and trading with her opponent, but equally happy to take the action to the mat and finish her opponent via submission. Her record of nine wins, one loss shows three wins by knockout, three by submission and three by decision, backing up the assessment that she's a well-rounded up-and-coming talent.
Now the 27-year-old will face VanZant looking to take her career win tally into double figures, and potentially send VanZant packing from the UFC in the process. The fight represents VanZant's final bout of her current UFC contract, and she's stated her intention to play the field and assess her value on the open market before inking her next new deal.
But a defeat to Ribas would see her career record fall to 8-5, and 2-4 from her last six.
Will UFC 251 prove to be the setup for a comeback for "12 Gauge" or will VanZant find herself exposed in a completely different way to her Instagram posts?Also on rt.com 'It's not a social media stunt': UFC knockout Paige VanZant opens up on sizzling nude Instagram snaps (PHOTOS)