Paige VanZant watched UFC 196 on Saturday night and saw Holly Holm get choked unconscious by Miesha Tate. She found herself in a similar position in December and wished she had done what Holm did -- not tap.
"I think it's just you giving up," VanZant told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "It's submitting and saying, 'I give up, you can win.' And that's just where I feel I could have just gone out. I would have rather have gone out than tap out."
VanZant (6-2) took a beating in that fight against Rose Namajunas at UFC Fight Night 80 in Las Vegas. She escaped multiple armbars and was left bloodied up. In the fifth round, Namajunas locked in a rear-naked choke at 2:25 and VanZant tapped out.
"I do care that I lost, but it's the fact that I tapped out," VanZant said. "I said, 'Rose, you can beat me. Go for it.'"
In the co-main event of UFC 196, Tate took Holm down in the fifth round, got her back and cinched in a choke. Holm tried to toss Tate off, but Tate hung on. Instead of tapping out, Holm went unconscious. VanZant was incredibly impressed.
"That shows a lot of heart, a lot of determination," VanZant said. "I think she's gonna come back really, really strong from it."
Things are still looking up for VanZant, who remains one of the biggest female stars in the UFC despite the loss to Namajunas. She's only 21 years old and had a four-fight winning streak coming into that fight.
In fact, the argument can be made that VanZant is more popular than ever. She won over some new fans by the toughness she showed against Namajunas. And it was announced Tuesday that VanZant would be competing on the coming season of "Dancing With The Stars," which begins airing March 21 on ABC. With a background in dancing, VanZant is very likely one of the favorites on the show.
While filming, VanZant has been staying and training in Los Angeles. She's targeting a return to the Octagon at UFC 200. "12 Gauge" said that she has discussed that possibility with the UFC and execs seem open to it.
"I think I have a whole list of girls that are ready to fight," VanZant said. "My name comes up all the time. So I know the fight will be there, there's gonna be fight options out there. It's just getting the UFC to make a good matchup and I can get back in there. I'm eager to get back in the cage."
VanZant said there were issues with her training camp leading into the Namajunas fight and she knows exactly what she's going to change -- "a lot of things" -- with an eye toward the future.
"I just have to come back and make sure that doesn't happen again," VanZant said.
Namajunas is now in position for a title shot soon and will face Tecia Torres at UFC on FOX 19 on April 16 in Tampa. VanZant is rooting for her in that bout.
"I think she has champion potential," VanZant said. "I'd love to see her beat Tecia and then fight for a title."
VanZant knows a title shot is a way off for her. She was even saying that before she fought Namajunas. Right now, she's focusing on her many outside endeavors and then she'll kick it into gear for a summer return.
"Time wise, that just works perfect for me," she said of UFC 200. "I'll have a great camp leading up to it."