With only three fights left to book for UFC 200, the smart money would be on the UFC using Paige VanZant’s newfound TV fame to boost ratings even further and draw some new eyes on the sport. ’12 Gauge’ is currently starring on Dancing With The Stars in America and is captivating audiences with her dancing skills.
Paige’s most recent fight was only her second loss at the hands of Rose Namajunas, who fights this weekend. VanZant went into that fight on a four-fight win streak and with a lot of momentum and hype behind her. The beating she was subjected to at the hands of Namajunas suggests that it may have been too much, too quick for the 22-year-old star.
After taking some time off to film the show, ’12 Gauge’ will be looking to come back sharper and get some much needed experience under her belt before another tilt at the upper echelons of the division. She demonstrated more heart than many fighters on the UFC roster in her loss to Rose, somehow evading submission after submission attempt and taking a high volume of punishing strikes.
Paige’s appearance on DWTS will come as somewhat of a surprise to many after watching her fight but she was a dancer before fighting and that is subsequently helping her to shine on the show. She finished in joint-first place this week, doing a Toy Story-themed dance.
The UFC brass will be smugly rubbing their hands together, as one of their rising stars garners a whole new fan base and will be contemplating how to utilise this best on her return to the octagon. One would imagine that they would be silly not to book her for UFC 200 as she would certainly draw some new eyes to the event.
UFC 200 would be the perfect platform for this as it is their marquee event and they will hope to have it lined up full of stars to entice any new eyes to continue watching the sport.
A potential opponent for the 22-year-old would be Joanne Calderwood, who she was originally scheduled to fight before Calderwood got injured and Namajunas stepped up as a late replacement. With the show finishing in the first couple of weeks of June and VanZant admitting that she is still training, along with rehearsals, don’t be surprised to see PVZ at UFC 200.
Paul O’Dea, Pundit Arena