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Paige VanZant to face Rachael Ostovich at BKFC 19 on July 23

VanZant submitted Ostovich in a UFC fight in 2019.

UFC Fight Night Cejudo v Dillashaw Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Former UFC star Paige VanZant’s Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) debut in January didn’t go swimmingly, as she lost a clear decision to Britain Hart, but the 27-year-old will be back on July 23, facing former UFC rival Rachael Ostovich.

This was an obvious plan since BKFC signed Ostovich (4-6 in MMA), last person VanZant beat in a fight at UFC Fight Night 143 in Jan. 2019.

The 30-year-old Ostovich is, in a sense, being brought in to lose here, because there’s really no question BKFC would like VanZant to emerge as a key star for their young brand. VanZant is tremendously marketable, but you can only do so much with fighters who don’t win fights.

But it’s not easy matchmaking, which BKFC have avoided. Even Hart was, as we said leading into the fight, a very dangerous opponent for VanZant to debut against; while Hart is no genius technician, she’s got real boxing experience and loads of training, knew her way in bare knuckle, too, and all that experience paid off against VanZant.

Paige did have a big fifth and final round in that fight, hurting Hart, but it wasn’t enough. And while people do tend to get down on VanZant for not being a great fighter and getting opportunities because of her looks, she’s also no joke of a fighter. She’s tough, gritty, always comes to fight, and went right back into training after losing to Hart in February.

BKFC’s next event is BKFC 18 in June, which is a loaded card featuring four championship fights. It’s expected to take place in Miami, but doesn’t have a firm date yet, which is maybe a bit troubling with it being May 27 and all.

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