Video: Paige VanZant opens up about struggles, mental state following losses at BKFC

Former UFC headliner and Dancing With The Stars finalist Paige VanZant has not had an ideal start to her career as a bare knuckle…

By: Tim Bissell | 2 years ago
Video: Paige VanZant opens up about struggles, mental state following losses at BKFC
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Former UFC headliner and Dancing With The Stars finalist Paige VanZant has not had an ideal start to her career as a bare knuckle fighter. Since joining BKFC on the heels of her release from the UFC last year she has gone 0-2 with losses to Britain Hart and Rachael Ostovich.

Recently VanZant uploaded a video where she candidly discussed her “mental state” in the immediate aftermath of her most recent loss. After that decision loss to Ostovich at BKFC 19 in July VanZant swiftly left the ring and did not stick around for any post-fight media.

“When I walked out of the ring, I didn’t just walk to my locker room, I literally walked all the way outside and I just went and cried in the parking lot by myself,” said VanZant (ht MMA Fighting). “I said some things to my husband that are pretty terrible about like my mental state.

“I told him I didn’t want to live anymore, that this wasn’t for me anymore. Like life wasn’t for me anymore so I was disappointed, It was hard.”

Soon after these initial feelings of disappointment VanZant found the resolve to post some defiant messages on social media, stating that she would come back from these defeats. Despite feeling like she’s capable of turning the tide in her combat sports career, VanZant did confess to feeling a burden stemming from negative perceptions of her and her abilities.

“I’m bummed out, bummed out to say the least,” she said. “Everyone expects me to lose and everyone expects me to fail. I don’t know, I just feel like people have this specific perception of who I am and especially online. It’s crazy how much people can hate on a single person. I just don’t get it.

“I pride myself of being a good person. I think that’s the most important thing for me. I never talk bad about my opponents. I never say a single negative thing about their character. You never know what somebody’s going through. You never know what someone’s on the verge of.”

VanZant also revealed that she feels she needs to start taking her mental health “more seriously”, adding that “mental health is no joke”.

VanZant’s combat sports career started out in 2012, with appearances on the Texas regional scene. In 2013 she signed with Invicta FC and debuted with a loss to Tecia Torres. After a win on the regional circuit she signed for the UFC in 2014.

She started her UFC tenure with three straight wins, including stoppages over Kailin Curran and Alex Chambers and a unanimous decision over Felice Herrig. In 2015 she headlined against current UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas and lost via submission.

VanZant rebounded from that loss with a sensational switch kick KO against Bec Rawlings. After that win she lost to Michelle Waterson by submission. VanZant would then sit out, due to injuries, until returning in 2018.

In 2018 she lost to Jessica-Rose Clark. A broken arm forced another long period on the sidelines for VanZant. She returned in 2019 and defeated Ostovich with an armbar. In 2020 she suffered an armbar loss to Amanda Ribas in what would be her last fight with the promotion.

VanZant signed a multi-fight deal with BKFC later that year. In a recent interview BKFC President Dave Feldman claimed he was still very much in the Paige VanZant business. However, he revealed that his most prized acquisition was now in a ‘must-win’ situation.

Free and confidential support for individuals who are in crisis and are thinking about taking their own lives, or have loved ones who are in crisis, can be found with the following organizations.

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Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

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