Ex-UFC siren VanZant teases move to Khabib’s MMA league
Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) star Paige VanZant has responded to talk of joining ex-UFC champ Khabib Nurmagomedov's new promotion, hinting that she could fight familiar rival and pin-up Rachael Ostovich again.
Hugely popular Paige VanZant remains one of the most marketable fighters in the world despite her mixed record, amassing a huge online following during her time with the UFC and subsequent move to the BKFC.
During her bruising career, the 27-year-old American, who has suggested in the past that she makes more money from her scantily-clad photoshoots which thrill some of her vast legion of fans, has twice faced fellow UFC alumni Ostovich.
Model and beauty businesswoman Ostovich has followed VanZant's path, losing their UFC fight in 2019 before earning revenge by decision in a closely-contested, brutal bout in July 2021.
Both brawlers have hinted at their willingness to return to MMA since then – and one promotion they could potentially join is entrepreneurial Nurmagomedov's blossoming Eagle Fighting Championship (EFC), which the retired MMA legend recently launched in Miami.
Shrewd promoter Nurmagomedov said in a press conference to formalize the championship in the US that a female division could be created, which would almost certainly appeal to well-known names such as VanZant and Ostovich.
Now teaser VanZant has stoked that possibility. "That's interesting," said the flyweight and TV star, pursing her lips after one of her legion of more than three million Instagram followers asked whether her potential trilogy fight with the equally tough Ostovich could come under Nurmagomedov's promotion.
VanZant then smiled, held out a finger and coyly paused, leaving the idea hanging in the air.
EFC could need to add to its roster during a year that Nurmagomedov expects to be packed for the promotion in the states.
The Dagestani wants to cement EFC as a global venture with a series of cards in the US in 2022, having previously been firmly associated with compelling events in Russia.
The organization has already caused a stir by introducing new 165-pound and 175-pound divisions in a move that is likely to have caught the eye of many fighters keen to compete at weights not offered by other promotions.
Former UFC fighter Kevin Lee is one of the major names to have already joined EFC, which kicks off its year with a bill headlined by Tyrone Spong and Sergei Kharitonov in Miami on January 22.
VanZant fights out of EFC's new home state for American Top Team Miami and has fought in the state on both of her appearances for BKFC.
The bare-knuckle newcomer also fielded several predictable questions about her marriage to Bellator MMA fighter Austin Vanderford during her high-spirited question-and-answer session.
The pair have been known to engage in saucy shoots as part of VanZant's routinely scantily-clad posts, so there was a certain inevitability to one viewer asking if they had considered producing a sex tape.
"Would I? We definitely already have," said VanZant, swaying a glass of red wine in front of the camera as she set the raunchy record straight. "Would I ever sell it, share it, promote it? That's a different story."
VanZant interpreted one question about her photos as asking her why she posted "sexy" pictures rather than fighting portraits.
"It's very easy to take a sexy picture of myself in a bikini at the pool – a picture of my face," she explained.
"I don't have a film crew that follows me around 24/7 and takes pictures of me training, so every day that I'm training, working out, boxing, sparring, whatever – having a cameraperson there, taking pictures of me in the gym, would be super-weird, right?
"A lot of these fitness people who you follow on Instagram literally just go to the gym to take pictures for that session, [and] they'll do their workouts separately, right? Their 'real' workouts [are] separate.
"So yeah, I do post more pictures on social media of sexy photos because that's what social media is for.
"I don't have someone with me 24/7 taking pictures of me working out and training. You just have to remember that social media is a miniscule portion of people's lives and not the entire thing.
"What do you want to see when you follow me? Do you want to see me getting douched in the face with a f*cking fist or do you want to see me looking cute and pretty?"