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Paige VanZant responds to BKFC fight cancellation: ‘I did not pull out of this fight’

BKFC/Phil Lambert

Paige VanZant was ready to fight.

The UFC veteran turned bare-knuckle fighter was in South Dakota with her husband Austin Vanderford, who was just days away from competing at Bellator 284, when she got the call that BKFC was pulling her fight with Charisa Sigala from the card on Saturday in London.

“I was frustrated with the way the whole situation was handled,” VanZant told MMA Fighting. “They pulled me like three or four days before Austin’s fight. I don’t know if the timeline is important to anybody, but they pulled me. I will say they’re treating me really well and they’re compensating me for the situation.”

According to VanZant, she was told “logistical issues” led to her fight being pulled from the event. BKFC president Dave Feldman confirmed it was the promotion’s decision to pull the VanZant vs. Sigala fight from the card and added it had nothing to do with either fighter involved.

“She 100 percent did not pull out of the fight – neither did Charisa,” Feldman told MMA Fighting from London on Thursday. “[We] had some problems here in the U.K. that I don’t really want to go into detail; I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus. Had some issues here, and it was just better for me to move that women’s fights back to the states. It just wasn’t going to work here in the UK.

“It worked out, it is what it is. These things happen sometimes. I made it right with her and her team. I made it right with Charisa. I didn’t leave them hanging. I did everything I was supposed to do, and we’re going to have that fight later on the year, probably in the November timeframe.

“I’ll go on record saying Charisa and Paige wanted to fight, but we had to do it for the company. These things happen at times. If these things happen and we don’t make it right with the fighters, then we’re no good. If we make it right with the fighters, these things happen. This is the world we’re living in.”

More than anything, VanZant was just disappointed that she couldn’t fight as scheduled at the London card, which is headlined by Michael “Venom” Page vs. Mike Perry.

“I was just waiting and waiting and waiting for them to announce it,” VanZant said. “I was pretty much on weight. I had cut all the weight early because I would be traveling with Austin and I didn’t want weight to be an issue.

“I had basically made weight, I had my whole team with me in South Dakota to train with me all the way up to the fight. I get called after fight week and I’ve made all the weight and they tell me they need to pull my fight. I don’t fully understand why I was the only person who was pulled.”

Initially after the fight was pulled from the London card, BKFC had announced plans to move VanZant vs. Sigala to a new card happening on Oct. 15 in Denver. Now, those plans have changed as well. VanZant said that date was never cleared with her, and she’s instead anticipating a return to action in November, though a date has not been cemented just yet.

“They told me my fight is not happening, they have to move it, and then the other crazy thing is the way they announced [the fight was moving] – they just put that poster out that says ‘Paige VanZant’s fight has been rescheduled to Colorado on Oct. 15,’” VanZant said.

“I won’t be able to fight in October. I’m in the process of moving, and I pushed it back to October because I knew I would be fighting [in August]. So I’m in the process of moving, and they moved the fight to Colorado, and they didn’t ask me or tell me. October is not happening.”

While the 28-year-old fighter appreciates that she’s being compensated for the fight being scrapped, she’s upset that there’s been a narrative forming that she was somehow the cause for the cancellation.

VanZant revealed that her father had traveled to London ahead of her to show his support, yet now she won’t even be competing.

“That’s what I was so frustrated with, and that’s why I put up my two posts [on Instagram],” VanZant said. “I didn’t pull out. The first five articles that pop up are ‘Paige VanZant pulls out of her fight,’ and I absolutely didn’t. I was bawling my eyes out at Austin’s fight because I made it all the way to fight week just to get pulled. I did not pull out of this fight.

“My dad’s in London. My dad got there a few days before my fight so he could explore and all of his hotels are non-refundable, so my dad is just touring London by himself. It really sucks. It’s been a rough couple of days.”

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