Paige VanZant is now a household name in America, and not just because of her skills inside the Octagon. Although coming up just short in the final of Dancing With The Stars, the UFC strawweight finished impressively in second place with numerous perfect-scoring performances. Along the way, she became a staunch fan favorite.
Captivating the hearts of America, Paige will return to the UFC with an even bigger army of her "FanZants" and rightly so. The 22-year-old electrified the show with her athleticism and insanely impressive dancing skills.
What's even better? She never shied away from her background as a mixed martial artist, never once fearing that perhaps the female demographic of voters wouldn't latch onto the idea. Instead, she embraced it and inspired thousands of young girls and men alike. With her work in the reality show, VanZant opened up the world of female MMA to millions of new potential fans.
Poised for greatness well before she entered the ABC reality show, Paige hit a slight stumbling block when she came up short against the more experienced Rose Namajunas inside the Octagon. Yet, like everything she does, even in her defeat VanZant managed to develop her superstar aura even further.
In a grueling bout that left her face visibly battered, Paige's perseverance, grit and sheer will to compete made her stand out as a force to be reckoned with in the roster of UFC women. With a current professional record in the UFC of 3-1, VanZant has age on her side and following her defeat by Namajunas, young prospect now also has some serious experience under her belt.
With the fight game now expanding into more commercial territories thanks to personalities like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, fighters are now expected to sell their fights more than ever. Media obligations are becoming synonymous with the sport, and if you can't slog it out for 10 hours a day in media prep for a fight, then sadly you ain't going to fight. No matter who you are, as seen with the "highly publicized civil war" between Conor and the UFC.
Thankfully for both parties, VanZant is already a media darling. Exuding charm, charisma and personality, VanZant has already won legions of fans. Signed to an exclusive deal with global sports company Reebok, the Nevada native has already proven that she's a bankable star.
The face of Reebok Women and now the face of Dancing With The Stars, her return to the Octagon is sure to be a thrilling event with the added boost of extra revenue for the UFC.
Of course, there's still a long way to go before any talk of titles come into play. VanZant had a reality check when she took on Rose Namajunas, and although she put on one hell of a show, it seemed that the UFC threw too much at the young starlet early into her career. However, the fighter does have the first TKO finish in the UFC strawweight division, proving that she really isn't just a pretty face.
An insanely talented fighter, expect to see much more of Paige in the cage. Previously scheduled to fight on the milestone UFC 200 card, her bout was postponed due to commitments to DWTS. With those commitments now over and her star appeal continuing to rise, VanZant can get back to focusing on her MMA career.
We can't wait to see what she does next.
(Image via MMAWeekly.com)