Paige VanZant fires back at critics questioning why she still fights: ‘I do whatever the f*ck I want’

A few years ago, Paige VanZant spoke openly about the financial struggles she faced during her final UFC fights after suffering a broken arm that kept her out of action for an extended period of time.

Then, as a free agent, VanZant inked a lucrative contract with BKFC, where she competed in a pair of bare-knuckle boxing fights. That, along with launching a fan site, helped her finally find financial stability in her career. Lately, VanZant has spent time expanding her empire after launching a new podcast alongside husband and fellow fighter Austin Vanderford, and crossing over into acting with a role in the upcoming horror film Skill House from writer and director Josh Stolberg, who previously worked on the popular Saw franchise.

But VanZant always planned to fight again. She returns to action Saturday in a boxing match against social influencer and adult star Elle Brooke at a Misfits card in Houston. Because she hasn’t competed in nearly three years and doesn’t necessarily need the money any longer, VanZant rarely escapes questions about why she still bothers fighting at all.

“I’ll tell you this, I have a lot of other opportunities on the table,” VanZant told MMA Fighting. “I signed a movie contract that we’re pushing back so I can have this fight. There’s a lot of other things I could be doing, but I choose to fight because I love it. I have multiple other opportunities reaching out to me that are bigger, I guess in the realm of popularity you could say, but I wanted to do this boxing match. I want to show how hard I’ve been working in the gym, how hard I’ve been training.

“My entire career, people have been asking me why I’m doing it, and it’s because I want to. I do whatever the f*ck I want to do, and I do it because I’m good at it. I do it because this is where I’m going to feel the most success at the end of the day. I like taking risks, I like having fun, and I like to fight.”

As much as VanZant appreciates that she no longer has to scrape and claw by when it comes to her finances, that hasn’t changed her desire to continue fighting.

It’s no different than successful boxers like Canelo Alvarez or Floyd Mayweather sitting at home with hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank, yet both continue to fight well beyond a time when they could have retired comfortably and never throw another punch.

“It’s just an interesting concept that people assume because you make a ton of money that you change as a person,” VanZant said. “Money doesn’t change you — hopefully. You just be smart, and my parents raised me extremely well. I went to college when I was 16. I pretty much could do anything that I wanted to do. I knew whatever I chose, I was going to be successful at, and now all of a sudden it has taken off. My career’s taken off. My finances are proving that, which is awesome, but I think the media likes to make a bigger deal about how much money I make more than I do.

“Everybody wants to talk about how much money I make, and yeah, that is awesome because if you’re going to do a job, you should be paid to do it. Otherwise, it’s just a hobby. The money hasn’t changed me. I’m still the same person. I still have the same love and desire and drive for fighting. It’s just one element that I still stress about that is I guess less stressful than the other person.”

For Saturday’s fight, VanZant isn’t facing another veteran from UFC or BKFC.

Instead, she faces a relative novice in combat sports, with Brooke essentially falling in love with boxing after she already found fame as an influencer. She’s 3-1 in exhibition bouts, and even scored a knockout in her most recent outing to claim a Misfits boxing title.

But that résumé doesn’t come close to the caliber of opponents VanZant faced during her professional fighting career.

So that begs the question — does VanZant actually view Brooke as a legitimate threat?

“I mean, everybody is [a threat],” VanZant said. “I’d have to go back and check what her last fight date was, but I know she’s been preparing extremely hard to fight me. I know they have known they were trying to get me on the fight card before I even knew, so I’m sure she’s been working really hard.

“I hope she is, because I do want to go out there and I want to have a tough fight and I want to really show how hard I’ve worked. That will only come from fighting a skilled opponent.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *