Paige VanZant is still a bare-knuckle fighter.
Following losses in her first two fights after inking a lucrative deal with BKFC in 2020, there were questions whether or not the 27-year-old former UFC prospect would return to the promotion again.
Now BKFC president Dave Feldman confirms to MMA Fighting that he expects VanZant to make her return to the ring in 2022 with plans already in motion to book her next opponent.
“She’s going to be fighting again,” Feldman said. “We were thinking about throwing her on the KnuckleMania card, too. I thought it was too much and we needed to just spread it out a little. I don’t have an exact date but I’d love to get her back in April. It would be great to get her back and there’s a lot of talent out there that would be good opponents for her, April-May-ish.
“So we’re going to be talking to [her manager] Malki [Kawa] and hopefully lock that in but we’ve already started the preliminary conversation. She knows that she’s going to get ready to fight soon.”
VanZant joined the BKFC roster following the end of her UFC contract, which is where she spent nearly six years of her combat sports career.
She initially signed a four-fight contract but then VanZant came up short in a decision to Britain Beltran in her debut before falling to fellow UFC veteran Rachael Ostovich in her second outing this past July.
Despite setbacks in both previous appearances, Feldman has still been impressed by what he’s seen out of VanZant, which is why he’s more than willing to bring her back for another fight.
“I’m confident that she will [fight for BKFC again],” Feldman said. Look, like I said before, she didn’t have to fight bare-knuckle. She had other options but she tested herself and then she lost. Then she came back and tested herself again and she lost [again].
“But neither of those fights are you like ‘oh my god, Paige got her ass kicked!’ Neither of those fights at all. You were like ‘good fights and Paige lost.’ No big deal. Everybody said she fought tough. She fought very tough.”
Feldman had previously acknowledged that while VanZant didn’t look completely outmatched in either bout, she had to eventually produce wins in order to move forward with her bare-knuckle fighting career with BKFC.
While those same conditions still exist, Feldman has already addressed his plans with VanZant and he’s hoping to have her next fight finalized sooner rather than later.
“It’s not like she doesn’t belong here in this sport,” Feldman said. “She’s schooling herself, she’s got two good experiences under her belt, she knows what went wrong and what to make right. We’ll see what happens.
“Like you and I talked about with any fighter, you can’t keep saying ‘well next time, next time, next time.’ Here’s the next time. We’ll match her accordingly and hopefully it works out for her.”