Paige VanZant turned down “Kickboxer” role to make UFC return in August: “I just missed the violence”

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Paige VanZant’s stint on Dancing With The Stars significantly raised her profile to a different audience than the UFC, and brought with it an offer for a role in Jean Claude Van-Damme’s next “Kickboxer” film. She’s instead returning to the sport this August, revealing on ESPN’s Sportscenter that she turned that role down in order to come back to the cage.

“Fighting definitely comes first,” VanZant said (transcribed by “I’ve recently declined to be in the ‘Kickboxer’ movie because I want to be 100 percent for this fight and train 100 percent and filming that movie was kind of going to get in the way. We couldn’t get a date set that worked with my fight schedule.

“Right now I’m 100 percent fight-focused and I would love to participate in anything the WWE has to offer when the timing’s right as long as it works with my fight schedule. I love WWE and if they ever reached out to me again I would love to work with them but right now I’m focused on Bec Rawlings.”

VanZant is returning against Rawlings at UFC on Fox 21 in Vancouver on August 27, and after her spring absence from the cage she’s more than excited to return to the Octagon.

“It feels really good to get back to my roots,” VanZant said. “I really, really miss MMA. I miss the UFC and this is my world and I belong in it and I’m excited to get back in the cage.

“I feel like I just missed violence. I went to a few UFC fights and it’s really hard for me to sit still cageside because I just want to be in there and that’s how it’s been every time I go to a UFC fight.”

Penick’s Analysis: It’s good that she’s got her priorities in order if she’s getting back into the cage. Had she won DWTS perhaps her mindset would be a bit different, but coming in as the runner-up has her on her way back. She has plenty of work to do as seen by her December loss to Rose Namajunas, but Rawlings is a good return opponent to see what she can do.

[Photo (c) Gary A. Vasquez via USA Today Sports]

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