VanZant in 2018
|Born||Paige Michelle Sletten|
March 26, 1994
Dundee, Oregon, U.S.
|Other names||12 Gauge|
|Height||5 ft 4 in (163 cm)|
|Weight||125 lb (57 kg; 8 st 13 lb)|
|Reach||65 in (165 cm)|
|Fighting out of||Portland, Oregon|
Gracie Barra Portland
Team Alpha Male (formerly)
|Rank||Purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Fabiano Scherner|
|Mixed martial arts record|
Austin Vanderford (m. 2018)
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
Paige Michelle Vanderford (née Sletten and VanZant; born March 26, 1994), known professionally as Paige VanZant, is an American mixed martial artist, author, and model. VanZant is signed to the flyweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Outside of mixed martial arts, she has appeared in the television series Dancing with the Stars and Chopped.
VanZant was born in Dundee, Oregon, and raised in Dayton, Oregon. Her parents owned a dance studio, and she was brought up dancing ballet, jazz, and hip hop for over 13 years. As a teen, she appeared in a mop commercial for Bissell. She was considered a tomboy while growing up, and loved the outdoors; her hobbies included riding dirt bikes and fishing. In high school, she was regularly bullied by a group of girls. The bullying started after rumors began to circulate in her high school in Oregon about VanZant having sexual intercourse with multiple boys at a party. In reality, VanZant was raped by multiple male classmates after they got her intoxicated at a party. The bullying included mocking her surname Sletten, which students changed to "Slutton". She eventually changed her surname legally to VanZant because of the persistent bullying. However, she has noted this experience as one of the reasons she likes being a martial artist and having the ability to defend herself.
Mixed martial arts career
After VanZant moved with her family to Sparks, Nevada, she was looking for a dance studio when she came across UFC veteran Ken Shamrock's gym, where she began training in boxing and other martial arts. After winning an amateur fight at age 18, VanZant made her professional MMA debut on June 30, 2012, at UWF's Tournament of Warriors finale against Jordan Nicole Gaza in Corpus Christi, Texas, winning by split decision. On September 22, 2012, she faced Amber Stautzenberger at Premier Fight Series 2 and won via unanimous decision.
VanZant faced Tecia Torres at Invicta FC 4: Esparza vs. Hyatt. The event was held on January 5, 2013, at the Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas. VanZant was dominated on the feet for much of the fight and lost to Torres via a unanimous decision.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
In December 2013, VanZant was announced as one of 11 women signed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for its newly created Strawweight division. It was also announced that she would compete as a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter (UFC), a television reality series, as part of a tournament to crown the inaugural strawweight champion. However, on March 31, 2014, VanZant was turned away from the reality series because she was only 20 years old, and the minimum age to compete on it is 21 due to the presence of alcohol in the house.
In August 2014, the UFC announced that VanZant would face Kailin Curran on October 4, 2014, in Halifax at UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Saffiedine, but VanZant suffered a back injury and the bout was rescheduled for UFC Fight Night: Edgar vs. Swanson. VanZant marked her UFC debut by defeating Curran by TKO in the third round, in a fight that would win Fight of the Night honors.
After defeating Kailin Curran, VanZant enjoyed an increase in popularity. In February 2015, she was signed to a sponsorship deal with Reebok. This became a source of controversy due to her having only one UFC fight at the time. Some media outlets and fighters speculated that VanZant only received the deal due to her physical attractiveness. UFC president Dana White responded that she received the Reebok deal because of her "it" factor and personality.
VanZant faced Felice Herrig on April 18, 2015, in Newark, New Jersey, at UFC on Fox: Machida vs. Rockhold. Following a competitive first round, VanZant eventually overwhelmed Herrig with her grappling, winning by unanimous decision.
VanZant signed a new contract with UFC on September 17, 2015. VanZant was expected to face Joanne Calderwood on December 10, 2015, at UFC Fight Night 80. However, Calderwood was pulled from the fight in October and replaced by Rose Namajunas. VanZant lost the one-sided fight via submission in the fifth round.
Following her time on Dancing with the Stars, VanZant returned to the cage to face Bec Rawlings on August 27, 2016, at UFC on Fox: Maia vs. Condit. She won the fight via KO in the second round after landing a flying head kick and a flurry of follow-up punches. The win earned VanZant her first Performance of the Night bonus award.
In her next bout, VanZant faced Michelle Waterson on December 17, 2016, in the main event at UFC on Fox: VanZant vs. Waterson. She lost the fight via technical submission due to a rear-naked choke in the first round.
In August 2017, VanZant moved to the 125-pound flyweight division and was booked against Jessica Eye at UFC 216 on October 7. However, VanZant pulled out of the fight on September 25 citing a back injury, and further ailments such as a herniated disc, sinus infection, double ear infection, pink eye and ringworm.
VanZant's debut in the flyweight division eventually took place in 2018 as she faced Jessica Rose-Clark on January 14, 2018, at UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi. After breaking her arm in the second round when attempting a spinning backfist, she lost the fight via unanimous decision.
After a year hiatus from competition due to a broken arm, VanZant faced Rachael Ostovich on January 19, 2019, at UFC Fight Night: Cejudo vs. Dillashaw. She won the fight via armbar submission in the second round.
VanZant was briefly linked to a matchup with Poliana Botelho on April 13, 2019 at UFC 236. However, just days after the pairing was leaked, VanZant announced that she would not be competing on the card due to a fractured right arm. Botelho remained on the card to face Lauren Mueller.
Initially, VanZant was told that she wouldn't require surgery on her arm and was targeting a return to the octagon in July. However, in early June, she told ESPN that the bone in her arm had not healed and that she would have to undergo surgery. She is projected to be sidelined for around three months.
VanZant was scheduled to face Amanda Ribas on March 14, 2020 at UFC Fight Night 170. However, VanZant was forced to pull out of the fight due to fracturing her right arm again (third such time for VanZant). She stated the injury was small and only needed 6-8 weeks to heal. VanZant requested to reschedule the bout one month later but Ribas decided to remain at the event and Randa Markos stepped in as the replacement.
VanZant typically attacks with aggressive grappling, then seeks to finish the fight with strikes. Her style includes ground-and-pound, dirty boxing, and a wide variety of clinch striking. While standing, she will often move the fight toward the fence and utilize knees, elbows, forearms, punches, and throws.
VanZant is noted for the constant pressure she applies while grappling. If an opponent escapes her clinch, she will usually look to close the distance again within moments. At UFC Fight Night 57, Kailin Curran struggled to establish range against VanZant. During their three-round bout, Felice Herrig was repeatedly held down by VanZant's grappling. The first fighter to defeat VanZant, Tecia Torres, largely avoided her clinch while attacking with strikes near the center of the cage. While fighting from a distance, she typically attacks with high kicks and punches. She credits her past experiences dancing with her ability to perform flexible and agile movements in her fights; she demonstrated this when she knocked out Bec Rawlings with a jumping switch kick which earned her a "Performance of the night" bonus.
Dancing with the Stars
On March 8, 2016, VanZant was announced as one of the celebrities who would compete on season 22 of Dancing with the Stars. She partnered with professional dancer Mark Ballas. The couple reached the finals of the show and finished in second place behind model Nyle DiMarco and his partner Peta Murgatroyd.
|Week #||Dance/Song||Judges' score||Result|
|1||Foxtrot / "Ain't Got Far to Go"||7||7||7||No Elimination|
|21||Salsa / "Danza Kuduro"||8||8||8||Safe|
|3||Paso Doble / "300 Violin Orchestra"||8||7||8||Safe|
|4||Quickstep / "You've Got a Friend in Me"||9||9/92||9||Safe|
|53||Rumba / "Perfect"||8||8/74||8||No Elimination|
|6||Jazz / "Soul Bossa Nova"||9||10||9||Last to be called safe|
|7||Jive / "Proud Mary"
Team Freestyle / "End of Time", "If I Were a Boy" & "Crazy in Love"
|8||Viennese Waltz / "Stone Cold"
Team-up Dance (Paso Doble) / "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
|Trio Samba / "Hip Hip Chin Chin"
Argentine Tango / "One Time"
|Last to be called safe|
|Salsa / "Fireball"
Freestyle / "Over the Rainbow"
Salsa & Jive Fusion / "Little Bitty Pretty One"
1 For this week, VanZant performed with troupe member Alan Bersten due to Ballas suffering a back injury during rehearsals.
2 Score given by guest judge Zendaya.
3 For this week only, as part of "America's Switch Up", VanZant performed with Sasha Farber instead of Ballas. Ballas performed with Ginger Zee.
4 Score given by guest judge Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
5 Due to Inaba being the judge coaching VanZant's team during the team-up dance, the viewers scored the dance in her place with the averaged score being counted alongside the remaining judges.
On March 3, 2017, VanZant was announced as one of 16 celebrities taking part in a celebrity cooking competition on the Food Network TV series Chopped. She was featured in the "Star Power: Culinary Muscle" episode, alongside former NFL player LaMarr Woodley, female Olympic gold medalist fencer Mariel Zagunis, and former Olympic gold medalist figure skater Dorothy Hamill. VanZant made it through the appetizer, and entree rounds to compete in the dessert round against Hamill. She then edged out Hamill in the dessert round to become the Chopped winner.
VanZant released her biography, Rise: Surviving the Fight of My Life on April 10, 2018. The book details her rise to fame, including her UFC battles, personal battles and appearances on Dancing with the Stars.
Her father nicknamed her "12 Gauge" because of her love of shooting and hunting.
In September 2018, VanZant married Austin Vanderford, a professional MMA fighter and a two-time NAIA All-American and national champion wrestler. The couple began dating the previous year, and Vanderford proposed to VanZant in January 2018.
Championships and accomplishments
- Ultimate Fighting Championship
- 2019 January Submission of the Month
Mixed martial arts record
|Professional record breakdown|
|12 matches||8 wins||4 losses|
|Win||8–4||Rachael Ostovich||Submission (armbar)||UFC Fight Night: Cejudo vs. Dillashaw||January 19, 2019||2||1:50||Brooklyn, New York, United States|
|Loss||7–4||Jessica-Rose Clark||Decision (unanimous)||UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi||January 14, 2018||3||5:00||St. Louis, Missouri, United States||Flyweight debut.|
|Loss||7–3||Michelle Waterson||Technical Submission (rear-naked choke)||UFC on Fox: VanZant vs. Waterson||December 17, 2016||1||3:21||Sacramento, California, United States|
|Win||7–2||Bec Rawlings||KO (switch kick and punches)||UFC on Fox: Maia vs. Condit||August 27, 2016||2||0:17||Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada||Performance of the Night.|
|Loss||6–2||Rose Namajunas||Submission (rear-naked choke)||UFC Fight Night: Namajunas vs. VanZant||December 10, 2015||5||2:25||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||6–1||Alex Chambers||Submission (armbar)||UFC 191||September 5, 2015||3||1:01||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||5–1||Felice Herrig||Decision (unanimous)||UFC on Fox: Machida vs. Rockhold||April 18, 2015||3||5:00||Newark, New Jersey, United States|
|Win||4–1||Kailin Curran||TKO (punches)||UFC Fight Night: Edgar vs. Swanson||November 22, 2014||3||2:54||Austin, Texas, United States||Fight of the Night.|
|Win||3–1||Courtney Himes||Technical Submission (rear-naked choke)||BCP: Cage Warriors 15||April 6, 2013||1||2:21||Grand Junction, Colorado, United States|
|Loss||2–1||Tecia Torres||Decision (unanimous)||Invicta FC 4: Esparza vs. Hyatt||January 5, 2013||3||5:00||Kansas City, Kansas, United States|
|Win||2–0||Amber Stautzenberger||Decision (unanimous)||Premier Fight Series 2||September 22, 2012||3||5:00||Fort Worth, Texas, United States|
|Win||1–0||Jordan Nicole Gaza||Decision (split)||UWF: Tournament of The Warriors Finale||June 30, 2012||3||5:00||Corpus Christi, Texas, United States||Strawweight debut.|
Amateur mixed martial arts record
|Amateur record breakdown|
|1 match||1 win||0 losses|
|Win||1–0||Morgan Hunter||Submission (rear-naked choke)||URC 32 - Ultimate Reno Combat 32||April 13, 2012||1||0:50||Reno, Nevada, United States|
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- "Fight Card - UFC 191 Johnson vs. Dodson 2". UFC.com. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
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- "UFC 191 Results: Paige VanZant Submits Alex Chambers After Mauling Her". MMAWeekly.com. September 5, 2015. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
- "Paige VanZant signs new contract with the UFC, says she has fight booked". Bloody Elbow. September 17, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
- Anton Tabuena (2015-10-28). "Paige VanZant now fighting Rose Namajunas with Calderwood out". bloodyelbow.com. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
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- "Paige VanZant returns to UFC as she continues her very difficult life". HalfGuarded.com. 2016-06-23. Retrieved 2016-08-27.
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- "Fighter Rankings | UFC ®". UFC. Retrieved 2017-07-31.
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- "Paige VanZant returns to strawweight, meets Amanda Ribas at UFC's March 14 event in Brazil". MMA Junkie. 2019-11-26. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Paige VanZant.|
|Awards and achievements|
Nick Carter & Sharna Burgess
| Dancing with the Stars (US) runner up
(Spring 2016 with Mark Ballas)
James Hinchcliffe & Sharna Burgess