clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Paige VanZant denies Michelle Waterson's claim she is 'very green' as a fighter

New, comments
Esther Lin photo

When Saturday night's UFC on FOX 22 main event between Paige VanZant and Michelle Waterson was announced back in October, Waterson stirred up a little controversy.

Speaking on The MMA Hour, Waterson said she likes VanZant as a person, but she sure didn't sound too high on her skills, saying VanZant was "very green."

For her part, VanZant just doesn't have trash talk in her nature. But the strawweight star remains confident in the skills which have led her to headline a network television card in her hometown just four years into her career.

"Everyone thinks I'm super green, but I'm not," VanZant said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour.

As proof, VanZant notes that in her last fight, in August, she knocked out Bec Rawlings with a spectacular head kick -- which isn't exactly a beginner's maneuver.

"I have confidence in my skill and I know I've worked hard for this fight, so I'm excited to go in there and show my athletic capabilities," VanZant said. "I have skills that I showed in my last fight, my athletic capabilities, with that awesome head kick knockout, so I'm ready to go in there and show a little more fireworks."

VanZant acknowledges she might not have as much experience as some of her opponents, like Waterson, a JacksonWink fighter and former Invicta atomweight champion. But PVZ notes she's gotten as far as she has in this sport with a level of tenacity which few can match.

"It is funny," VanZant said. "When I first started fighting, Michelle Waterson and Felice Herrig and all these girls, they had already held belts in the division. You know, I understand people think I'm green, or think I'm new to the sport. But I'm a high-level athlete and I learn very, very quickly. I have a high level of tenacity and that gets me a lot of victories and not a lot of people have that."

Of course, PVZ herself notes that Saturday night will be no ordinary fight night. She headlines the card, the first at Sacramento's new downtown arena, on the same night as the final career fight of her mentor, Urijah Faber, who meets Brad Pickett on the main card.

"It feels amazing just having Urijah on this fight card," VanZant said. "He's passing the torch to us. He's been very influential for every single fight. This is his last fight in the UFC, he's still influential to me in my fight career. There's no added pressure, but it's a moment I'm never going to forget. It's a big deal."

For her part, VanZant didn't know her bout with Waterson was going to be the evening's main event until she found out through social media.

"I actually didn't find out I was the main event until it was announced on Twitter," VanZant said. "I was like ‘Am I in main event?' and it was confirmed. It was a huge, super exciting thing, I called my parents. It's crazy to me I get to be on the main event again. It's a huge deal to have Urijah on it fighting for the last time. It's bittersweet, I cant wait to see him dominate."

If you haven't noticed by now, PVZ doesn't let MMA's ups and downs get her too high or too low. And that's helped her through a whirlwind 12 months in which she suffered her first UFC loss (to Rose Namajunas), shined on "Dancing with the Stars," and returned with a renewed focus on her fighting career.

"I'm happy," VanZant said. "I'm a new person. I look at past fights but don't focus on them, I look toward the future. Even though I'm happy with my last performance, I'm not 100 percent focused on it, I'm not going to look at it and and think I'm perfect because I got that win. I understand I still have a lot of things to work on, and a lot of areas I need to improve. I don't think want to ever think I'm the best, because there other people always trying to beat me, training to beat me."