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Morning Report: Paige VanZant: ‘I make way more money sitting at home, posting pictures on Instagram, than I do fighting’

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Paige VanZant
Paige VanZant
Esther Lin/MMAFighting.com

In Las Vegas this week, the UFC Antitrust lawsuit filed by Jon Fitch, Nate Quarry, and Cung Le is kicking into high gear as the expert hearings have begun and much of that live testimony so far has centered around fighter pay. So it’s unfortunate for the UFC that at the same time, on the other side of the country, one of their biggest stars is also commenting about the UFC’s pay structure.

Paige VanZant is one of the most recognizable names in the sport. But with only one fight left on her current UFC contract, VanZant told Ariel Helwani on Monday that she intends to finish this contract out and then will be asking for a substantial pay raise for her next one.

“In general, I’m happy where I am but I do think my value is significantly higher than what I’m currently valued at,” VanZant said. “I want a significant pay raise, to be completely honest. I do think that my value is really low. My manager says I need to start talking highly about myself and standing up for myself. So when I fought Michelle Waterson, we had some of the highest views on FOX in years and years and years. We set the record, we blew everyone out. We had amazing views when we were on FOX, killed it on FOX. Coming off of Dancing with the Stars, with the fan base I’ve been able to build up, doing my book tour, I’ve just been extremely accomplished outside of the UFC as well as in the UFC.

“I see these other stars that cross over from other organizations. Take CM Punk. I don’t think I have quite the same star value CM Punk does. It’s a different industry and he has a huge fanbase where he comes from. Greg Hardy, him coming over from football, all these other stars, and what the UFC values them at. I’m not saying they’re devaluing me, because this is an extremely old contract, but I do know how much money I make in comparison to them and I do want to show the UFC that I’m so much more than just a star outside of fighting. I’m a star in the UFC as well. I’m really talented, I’ve been working hard, I just have had a string of unfortunate luck with my arm and I think I need to put in perspective all the things that I have done. I’ve had five wins in the UFC, four finishes, two armbars, one knockout, an awesome record, I’ve been main event twice, and I think someone with those accolades should be paid more.”

VanZant has had a successful run in the UFC but has been arguably even more successful outside of the cage. She’s written a book, been featured in Sports Illustrated, and even competed on Dancing With the Stars, but VanZant says that she’s still fighting out a contract that she signed back when the Fertitta brothers owned the UFC. Now, some of that has to do with her injury history which has been extensive, but VanZant still says that continuing to fight at her current pay structure would actually be a financial loss for her instead of pursuing other, more lucrative endeavors. And it’s not just her. VanZant says all fighters, especially female fighters, should be getting paid more.

“The hard thing for me to put in perspective is with endorsements I make way more money sitting at home, posting pictures on Instagram, than I do fighting,” VanZant said. “With endorsement deals and everything I pull in from social media, I would actually be a a loss just taking a fight and focusing on that. If I were to stop everything I do outside of fighting and take a fight, I would be at a loss financially.

“With TV endorsements and all the things that I do, and coming off of Sports Illustrated, if I’m gonna keep breaking my arm, if I’m gonna keep sacrificing for this sport - I feel like it’s all fighters and all female fighters need to be recognized.

“When I did my contract negotiation the last time, the talk was, ‘I can’t pay you more than a female champion.’ Okay, but why are comparing me to just women? All of us should be getting paid more in general. Especially the women and especially based on your star power.”

VanZant is currently recovering from yet another arm surgery. Over the last couple of years she has had repeated issues with a broken arm that has required multiple surgeries. However, VanZant says she’s almost back from this one and should be able to start sparring soon enough, and expects to finish out the last fight on her contract this year and remind the UFC who she is and why they should be paying her more.

“I for sure am gonna fight this year,” VanZant said. “Once I start sparring I want to sign a fight contract and be like six weeks out. I only have one left on my deal. I’m gonna fight it out. Knowing it’s my last fight I do want to go out with a statement. I want to come off of two wins, I want to really show what I’m worth.”

VanZant last competed in January, submitting Rachael Ostovich with an armbar in the UFC’s first fight card on ESPN+.


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FINAL THOUGHTS

Pumped about the comment section for this one. I’m sure it’s gonna be civil and filled with nuanced arguments

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


EXIT POLL

Poll

Does VanZant end up re-signing with the UFC or move on to greener pastures?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Re-signs
    (564 votes)
  • 61%
    Moves on
    (913 votes)
1477 votes total Vote Now

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