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Paige VanZant still hoping for year-end fight after multiple surgeries on broken arm

Paige VanZant
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Following three surgeries to repair her broken arm, it’s understandable why Paige VanZant is nervous ahead of her next trip to the doctor’s office.

The 25-year-old UFC flyweight has already sacrificed 20 months of her career dealing with a broken arm that was first suffered in her fight against Jessica-Rose Clark back in January 2018. VanZant recovered from the initial injury and returned with a win this past January but then endured a setback that required her to go under the knife yet again.

Now almost exactly two months removed from her most recent surgery, VanZant is preparing to see her physician this week in hopes of gaining clearance so she can finally return to training.

That visit will hopefully determine when VanZant can fight again but she’s hopeful to compete one more time before 2019 is finished.

“My arm feels good but my mind is still uneasy,” VanZant said when speaking to MMA Fighting on Monday. “Before I had my first surgery, I felt great, I went in and my arm was still broken. I had to have a second surgery. I’m at the point where I don’t trust myself. I feel really good but my mind still isn’t at peace until I go in and have my first CT scan. I go in on Wednesday, so Wednesday is the day I get to go in and get my CT scan, see if my arm is healing and hopefully get cleared to start training.

“I can honestly say I’ve done everything correctly. I haven’t rushed anything. I’ve been doing everything it takes to heal this stupid arm. The plan is to fight at the end of the year. I’m hoping I’ll get some good news on Wednesday and I’ll move forward from there.”

It’s familiar territory for VanZant, who felt great after recovering from her initial arm surgery only to suffer another break following her last fight.

That’s why she’s being extremely cautious this time around because there’s a lot riding on her next fight in the UFC.

VanZant has stated that she only has one bout remaining on her current deal with the promotion and she wants to fight out her contract to prove her worth before inking a new contract.

To ensure she’s going to return at 100 percent health, VanZant has done exactly what her doctors have instructed, which required a lot of downtime away from the gym.

“That’s the hard thing. It’s a mind trip because I am doing nothing right now but I have to understand that doing nothing is doing something,” VanZant explained. “I need to not do anything. I need to sit and just let my arm heal and that was kind of the issue I ran into before. I keep thinking I’m an athlete and I need to keep working out, I need to keep my body in shape and I need to do all these things and there was just too much motion in my arm for it to heal.

“Now I have to understand and it’s a blessing I moved up a weight class because all I can do is sit here and diet. I wasn’t supposed to run for the first eight weeks. I wasn’t supposed to do anything to over exert myself so no running, no heavy walking, they really wanted my arm to be as still as possible because they know I have problems healing. It was telling myself it was OK to just sit on the couch all day. That is still something to help my arm.”

While away from fighting, VanZant has found other ways to keep her mind busy including a new occupation as a color commentator for M-1 Global USA as well as her new gig calling Kinektic Grappling’s debut show this weekend on UFC Fight Pass.

“I think this is something I can do moving forward in the future. It’s awesome I can do it and coincide with my MMA career, especially while taking some time due to injury to keep my knowledge up of the game, not get my mind out of it,” VanZant said. “It brings me into the competition, it keeps me passionate about competing. It keeps me a part of it all.

“I would also love to get better at it and hopefully move up in shows and keep doing stuff like this with Fight Pass. It’s really good for me as a competitor.”

Kinektic Grappling features a team-grappling concept with multiple matches taking place in one night to determine an eventual champion.

VanZant is ready to sharpen her commentary skills on a new facet of martial arts like this one as she anxiously awaits her opportunity to fight again.

“I’m trying to keep myself as busy as possible and I’m still moving forward in my career,” VanZant stated. “I’m not working on a specific skill set right now but I’m not going to miss out on anything. I’m only 25 so once I start training again, I’ll be right back at it. When you’re an athlete, it doesn’t really go away.”

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