Former UFC fighter Paige VanZant has turned down an offer from Bellator to stay in mixed martial arts, and will instead try her hand(s) at bare knuckle boxing with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, signing a multi-fight deal with BKFC.
The 26-year-old VanZant, who fights as a featherweight by boxing terminology, was 3-1 in MMA before making her way to UFC in 2014. As of now, she has a career MMA record of 8-5, and lost her last fight there on July 11, submitted in the first round by Amanda Ribas.
Bellator seemed the more natural fit for her, but the BKFC money might well just be worth the risk, and it will be a risk. That said, BKFC do recognize two Police Gazette women’s champions at featherweight, world champion Bec Rawlings and American champion Helen Peralta, and it should be noted that VanZant knocked out Rawlings in a UFC fight in 2016, though kicking was allowed in that fight.
BKFC recently signed a deal with DAZN, which will see them stream “a series of special events,” and if they’re successful in getting the streaming service some attention and subscribers, that could turn into a long-term deal.