Paige VanZant offers timeline for return fight, promises ‘it will be with BKFC again’ (2024)

Paige VanZant will fight again, but when that happens remains to be seen.

The UFC veteran turned bare-knuckle fighter hasn’t competed for more than two years. She originally was scheduled to return in August 2022, but her BKFC bout was cancelled just days before she was scheduled to leave for London. The fallout from that cancellation left her in a vulnerable state, especially after she faced criticism for the dropout despite BKFC making the call.

VanZant said she struggled afterward with mental health as she attempted to reconcile the work she’d put in to get ready.

“The real frustration, I guess, was the lead-up to the fight — I worked so hard,” VanZant told MMA Fighting. “I was so excited for this fight. But it was also a big accomplishment as a couple to say we got [my husband Austin Vanderford] ready for his fight. I was at his fight when I got the call that my fight got pulled. So him and I were supposed to fight days apart from each other. Just what goes into a fight camp for two people. Dieting for both of us, just the behind the scenes things that people don’t really understand what goes on, just getting prepared.

“For me to get the call that the fight got pulled — a fight I was so ready for, and I was so excited about. I cut all the weight early, because I knew I would be traveling, I would be flying all the way to London. My dad was already in London waiting for me. It was depressing, and then trying to figure out how to get right back into a fight camp and not knowing when their next fight camp would be. We already had plans to go visit family in Alaska. It’s like, do I cancel my trip to Alaska? It was hard to figure out what to do next.”

The fight also served as VanZant’s chance to get back in the win column, which followed a tough pair of BKFC losses and a defeat in her final UFC appearance. With her last win coming in 2019, VanZant was anxious to right her course. But instead she was sidelined yet again.

“That’s the thing, I didn’t even get to fight,” VanZant said. “I didn’t get to prove myself. I didn’t get to go out and just do what I love. The fight camp is the struggle. You go in, you struggle, you lose weight, you work so hard and you sacrifice so much throughout your day to day to prepare for something, and to have it just taken away from you, it’s just frustrating.

“I did feel like there could have been things done differently. I don’t have any ill will toward BKFC. I would never speak negatively [about them], they’ve treated me extremely well. It’s just more the way it all played out was extremely frustrating.”

Since that fight was cancelled back in 2022, VanZant hasn’t slowed down with her career outside the cage, but she just hasn’t been ready to book her return just yet.

She runs a wildly popular OnlyFans page and is also finishing construction on her new house in Florida. She recently launched her own podcast alongside her husband, and she still has interest in returning to professional wrestling after a brief stint in All Elite Wrestling.

As far as her BKFC return, VanZant said she’s really just enjoying herself in the gym right now. She can’t put a number or a date on when that might actually lead to booking her next fight.

“I feel like I am in a position where I’m just having fun working out and training right now,” VanZant said. “I’m going back to when I first started. I want to find that spark and that passion again to where I’m not fighting to make the president of the company happy, I’m not fighting for sponsors. I’m not fighting for my family, to help them out, to get them out of dark times.

“I’m in a great place where I can do all these things that I actually set out to do. I can help my family. I can do these things, but I don’t have to fight for that to be possible. Now it’s like I get to choose when I fight. It’s really nice.”

VanZant also points out she has plenty of time to fight again without really losing a step. She joined the UFC roster when she was barely 20, so there’s still a lot of road left to travel in her career.

“I’m only 29,” VanZant said. “I think people forget I had a really long career at a young age. I’m still in my 20s. For me, I get to take my time, I get to train. I think a big part of what I had said in the Instagram video, I just want to get better.

“I never really since I started my career just focused on just getting better. I was always preparing to fight somebody or preparing for the next opportunity whereas now I’m just trying to get my skills better and beyond that, there’s just so many things I’m passionate about.”

Of course, VanZant hasn’t shut the door on returning to MMA one day in the future. But for now, her full focus in fighting remains with BKFC. What’s undetermined is when that might happen. She might get the itch to compete again in a couple of months, or maybe it will be another year — she’ll know when the time is right.

“It’s definitely bare-knuckle, and I don’t know if it’s down the road in six months, I don’t know if it’s down the road a year,” VanZant said. “I really just haven’t decided yet. I’m going to leave a lot of that up to my manager and my coaches. Just work on this time to get better and enjoy the training and not worry about signing a fight contract right away. But it’s definitely bare-knuckle.

“I love bare-knuckle boxing. I’ve now gone 10 rounds in bare-knuckle boxing and I’m searching for that victory. I’m searching for a lot of things in bare-knuckle boxing that I haven’t accomplished, and it will be with BKFC again.”

Paige VanZant offers timeline for return fight, promises ‘it will be with BKFC again’ (2024)
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