Paige VanZant may be spending the next several months dancing on national television, but she’s still targeting a summer return after her time on Dancing With The Stars.
“Throughout this I’m going to be trying my hardest to win, but I’m also going to be training the entire time. I am still a fighter first,” VanZant said in an interview with FoxSports.com. “The goal is still UFC 200, I’ve known for a while that’s the one I want to be on. Perfect timing. If I were to make it to the finals of this, I’d still have a six to eight week fight camp, which would be great. I’m still training in LA. I’m not missing out on anything. I’m excited to hopefully win on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and then go fight on UFC 200.”
As for the opportunity to appear on the show itself, VanZant is excited to put forth a couple of firsts and to expose herself to a wider audience.
“There’s never been an active UFC fighter on the show and there’s never been a female UFC fighter on the show,” she said. “I just want to bring a new dimension and I want to be a really good representative of women’s athletes and women’s fighters. Just to show them that we can do so much more than fight, so much more than just being tough. So I’m excited to show a whole new side of me.
“People identify me as a fighter and I am a fighter, I’m tough, but I want to show there’s so much more to me than that.”
Penick’s Analysis: VanZant may have lost her last fight, but she showed a ton of heart in the outing, and hasn’t lost any of her appeal as a marketable competitor. This was a good move from the point of her management team, and the UFC benefits from the exposure as well. Keeping her in the public eye despite the December loss and building her back up to a new audience leads in well to UFC 200, and if she can follow that up with a win and continued improvement in her game, she’s going to continue getting significant spots from the UFC.
[Photo (c) Jayne Kamin-Oncea via USA Today Sports]
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