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Urijah Faber told Paige VanZant 'you're going to have a lot of haters'

Esther Lin photo

LOS ANGELES -- From high-profile fights to intensive media tours to an individual Reebok sponsorship, Paige VanZant has a lot on her plate for a woman barely old enough to legally drink alcohol.

The founder of her gym, Urijah Faber of Sacramento's Team Alpha Male, says he warned the budding strawweight star early on that things were going to get a little nuts.

"That poor girl was just thrown into that whirlwind," Faber recently told "I think it's part of being a girl and the pretty girl syndrome, you're going to have a lot of haters. I prepared her for that a long time ago."

It takes a certain type of personality to thrive in the UFC's high-pressure, fast-moving machine. The way Faber sees it, VanZant's poise at such a young age is a product of a positive outlook and a close family.

"The first thing is, she's just generally a very, very positive person, a happy demeanor, takes things in stride," Faber said. "The second thing is, she's super tight with her family. Her mom and her dad are like, those are her best friends, she's with them all the time, when she's done with her fights, she goes and hangs out with her mom and her dad. There's something to be said about that."

Add to that equation raw athletics skills and a willingness to learn, and Faber believes VanZant, who improved to 3-0 in the UFC with her third-round submission over Alex Chambers at UFC 191, has all the tools to make it to the top.

"She's one of those girls, some of the best athletes in female sports are soccer players and cheerleaders and gymnasts and she's that level of athlete, but just loves to fight. Being positive, having a great family system and not being afraid of hard work and a little bit of a mean streak is the key for her. She soaks up information. You show her something, she can put it in her repertoire that day."

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