Former UFC Star Paige VanZant was once a bright and promising prospect. In many ways, Paige marked the beginning of the Reebok era in the organization being one of the only athletes allowed to have a side deal with the main sponsor.
However, she recently revealed that what she earned was nothing compared to what she got from appearing on the TV show ‘Dancing with the Stars’.
VanZant last appeared in the promotion in 2020, losing to Amanda Ribas by submission two and a half minutes into the event. She then parted ways with the UFC.
In an interview with ESPN in 2020, she said that she is still interested in UFC, but she also wants to test the water in other opportunities.
She continued: “I just feel like a regular extension isn’t what I want. I want to prove my worth and my value and I want a brand new contract.”
“I’m really excited to get the opportunity and really test the free agency because how do you know what your value is unless you can go test it among the other sharks?”
She later added that she earned around $46,000 per bout from the promotion, which is doubled should she win.
She then revealed that this number is less than what she took home from her TV appearance and social media.
“So I make $46,000 [to show] and (another) $46,000 [to win].”
“I’m not going to hide that because everyone knows. I can make way more money than that just promoting brands on Instagram, and that should say something.”
“Why would I step away from all the amazing success that I have? I made more money on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ than I have in my entire UFC career combined – every fight, every win, every bonus.”
Dancing With the Stars contestants are estimated to receive a starting salary of $125,000, according to Variety.
Despite parting ways with the promotion that made her into a household name, she received a more lucrative deal from Bare Knuckle Boxing Championship. Hence, she hung her 4 oz gloves and started her bare-knuckled journey. Of course VanZant has been vocal about the fact that she owes her financial freedom to her subscription only site where she shares provocative pictures of herself for a fee.
VanZant still has a brighter trajectory than many other mixed martial artists. UFC seems adamant to keep low balling talent and is actively lobbying in order to protect Ali act protections in the world of mixed martial arts.
The promotion’s crackdown on athlete’s sponsored deals is even stricter. And while the cage was not branded by sponsors for a while in the reebok era it’s pretty much hard to find a blank spot on the canvas nowadays. Meanwhile the backroom bonuses are a shadow of what they were in the early 2010s and a lot of the active athletes are struggling to make ends meet.
VanZant is set to appear at BKFC again – she faces Charisa Sigala as part of the upcoming BKFC event scheduled in London on Aug. 20.
Luthfi Prawiro is a writer based in Jakarta, Indonesia. He has a strong passion for combat sports and a BA in Psychology. His undergraduate thesis was on the Sports Psychology of MMA.