Paige VanZant became just the sixth UFC fighter to land an individualized Reebok deal earlier this week, joining Anthony Pettis, Johny Hendricks, Ronda Rousey, Jon Jones and Conor McGregor as the only fighters to claim separate endorsement sponsorships from the UFC's new exclusive uniform partner.
The signing of 20-year-old strawweight raised some eyebrows though. Four of VanZant's Reebok brethren are either UFC champions or former champions, while the lone outlier, McGregor, is slated to fight for the title later this summer. VanZant, on the other hand, is merely 4-1 as a professional with just one UFC win, and only recently was inched into the top-10 of the UFC's media-generated 115-pound rankings.
"Listen, people love that girl. She has a great personality -- I don't know if you saw the Instagram of her dancing out in front of her car. That's awesome," White said. "She has the personality. Some people have that ‘it factor' that you can't teach people, and Paige has it."
Several women within the strawweight division have taken not-so-subtle shots at VanZant since the deal was announced, implying in large part that VanZant only landed it because of her looks. Among the most vocal of those with a skewed eyebrow has been the division's own champion Carla Esparza, the 27-year-old who emerged atop the murderer's row lineup of The Ultimate Fighter 20 to claim the UFC's inaugural 115-pound title.
Esparza has been active on Twitter throughout the past few days, retweeting and responding to fans who are voicing complaints about her being snubbed by Reebok. Esparza went on to tell MMA Junkie that she felt "overlooked by the UFC machine" because of the way everything has played out, but White believes she shouldn't look at the situation as a negative.
"The thing is for Carla, Carla is the champ. Some things come easier for other people," White said. "I don't think that the Paige VanZant deal is a reflection on Carla negatively at all. Reebok can choose whoever they want. Chris Weidman, T.J. Dillashaw, Demetrious Johnson, Cain Velasquez, and Jose Aldo don't have deals with Reebok. The Reebok deal is still new and Reebok can't just run out and sign everybody."