This Friday night, Paige VanZant (8-5 MMA) will make her highly anticipated debut in BKFC. 2020 was a big year for Paige VanZant. She returned to combat sports for the first time since January of 2019. She had been held out due to a number of injuries.
VanZant had one fight left on her UFC contract and she took on Amanda Ribas at UFC 251. That night, VanZant was submitted in the first round. The entire fight week, VanZant made it clear that she was going to explore free agency after the fight with Ribas.
VanZant and the UFC agreed to part ways after the final fight of her deal and she started exploring the market. Early on, Bellator was seen as the clear favorite to sign PVZ. They were vocal about their interest and VanZant’s husband fights under the promotion.
However, VanZant shocked everyone when she signed an exclusive deal with BKFC. Bare Knuckle Boxing was not even on the radar in terms of evaluating the options for VanZant. However, BKFC came forward with an offer she couldn’t refuse and she took the deal.
Now, this Friday she will step into the squared circle against Britain Hart (1-2 BKFC). It will be the start of a new chapter for Paige VanZant. However, despite signing the deal with BKFC, her MMA career might not be over due to some language in the contract.
BKFC will allow VanZant to compete in MMA
In speaking with TMZ Sports, VanZant revealed that BKFC’s contract gives her the liberty to take an MMA fight. VanZant said, “They (BKFC) did give me the liberty in my contract to take an MMA fight. I was informed of that by my manager and I didn’t know that at first”
“At first I was like, ‘No, I just want to do the boxing.’ But, after coming to American Top Team, it rebirthed my excitement (for MMA)… Yeah, maybe I’ll take an MMA fight. But for now I’m strictly focused on the boxing,” VanZant said.
Signing VanZant was a huge mainstream move for BKFC. While the MMA purest aren’t extremely high on PVZ, she does have a massive following and she will bring eyes and attention to Bare Knuckle.
If she can get a couple of wins under her belt at BKFC, it might be good business to explore cross-promotion. I could definitely see a situation in the future where there is some cross-promotion events with PVZ. My guess is that it would likely be Bellator seeing as Scott Coker is never afraid to co-promote an event.