LAS VEGAS — Paige VanZant is a decorated UFC fighter with multiple endorsements and TV appearances, but her life wasn’t always that rosy. In fact, she was the target of intense bullying that forced her to move from Oregon to Nevada after her freshman year of high school.
Now 23 and one of the UFC’s most popular athletes, VanZant is using her celebrity to spread an anti-bullying message — something she discusssed Wednesday at the Women of the UFC panel at the Park Theater.
“It’s not my purpose to fight for the UFC. It’s my platform,” VanZant said. “… I’m really hoping I can inspire people (with her anti-bullying message) because a lot of girls have gone through something that I’ve been through, and they don’t know what to do, and it leads to a lot of suicide, it leads to a lot of these terrible things. … I do think God put me here in this position for a purpose and for my platform.”
VanZant spoke alongside strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Michelle Waterson and Cris “Cyborg” Justino, and the four covered many topics, including the growth of the UFC women’s divisions in such a short period.
As for her next fight, VanZant said an announcement should come soon. She hasn’t appeared in the octagon since Dec. 17, when Waterson submitted her in the first round of their UFC Fight Night Sacramento bout.
VanZant now is the 11th-ranked contender in the UFC’s strawweight division and owns a 4-2 record.
Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images