Paige VanZant returns to the cage at UFC on Fox 21 in Vancouver against Bec Rawlings

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Paige VanZant (photo credit Jayne Kamin-Oncea © USA Today)

After a star-making stint on Dancing With The Stars, UFC strawweight Paige VanZant is returning to the cage this August at UFC on Fox 21.

The UFC announced on Thursday morning that VanZant will return to the cage on August 27 in a fight against TUF 20 competitor Bec Rawlings. It’s VanZant’s first fight since a one-sided loss to Rose Namajunas at the TUF 22 Finale last December.

At just 22-years-0ld, VanZant caught the UFC’s attention early, and impressed through three fights in the cage. That got her the main event fight with Namajunas and had elevated her profile significantly enough to open doors to DWTS and other projects. After coming in second place on this spring’s season, VanZant now turns her attention back to the Octagon.

As for Rawlings, the Australian strawweight is 7-4 overall in her MMA career, and she’s won two straight in the UFC since a debut loss to TUF castmate Heather Jo Clark. She returned this March from a ten month layoff, defeating Seo Hee Ham by decision.

UFC on Fox 21 is the UFC’s return to Vancouver after a more than two year absence, and will also feature the featherweight debut of former UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis against Charles Oliveira.

Penick’s Analysis: That’s the right level of fight for VanZant, as Rawlings is a tough and competitive fighter but nevertheless beatable. Namajunas was a step or two above where VanZant is at this point in her career, and it showed, but she’s still gritty in the cage and willing to fight on even when she’s out-matched. That was a big takeaway from that fight in that she kept the effort up even as she was just not having success. This is a fight where she can work on improving in order to defeat someone else with similar abilities.

[Photo (c) Jayne Kamin-Oncea via USA Today Sports]

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