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Claudia Gadelha knew Paige VanZant could dance, but couldn’t beat a top 5 fighter

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Paige VanZant was riding a three-fight winning streak inside the Octagon when Claudia Gadelha told MMA Fighting she considered the rising star a great dancer, but not yet a top fighter. Seven months later, she thinks that her point was proven.

A month after that interview, VanZant fought Rose Namajunas in the main event of UFC Fight Night 80 and lost via fifth-round submission. VanZant has yet to return to action under the UFC banner, but finished as runner-up on the last season of "Dancing With The Stars."

"I said that," Gadelha said with a laugh during a recent media day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "Paige VanZant is a girl that goes forward all the time, has a lot of energy, but she’s not at the top of the division. I’ve said many times that if she fought a top 5, she wouldn’t win.

"But congratulations to her on the dance show."

VanZant was hoping to return at UFC 200 on July 9, but changed plans after "Dancing With The Stars". Gadelha, on the other hand, returns to action on July 8, facing Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the UFC strawweight championship.