Paige VanZant shocked the MMA world yesterday when she announced her move from the UFC to Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship.
Paige will make her BKFC debut in November. Her opponent has not been officially revealed.
VanZant signed a four-fight deal with the bare-knuckle promotion that is worth over $1 million with incentives. This marks a significant increase in pay compared to her UFC contract.
BKFC President David Feldman confirmed the signing after it was originally reported by ESPN.
“It tells people we’re serious,” Feldman told MMA Fighting about the offer. “We’re not out there throwing money around stupidly and making bad decisions. We spend money on things we think can help the company grow, and Paige VanZant, with 4 million followers on her social media accounts, can help us grow.”
The BKFC promoter is used to offering big money to sign top talent. Earlier this year, reports came out of a potential deal with Mike Tyson. The deal was rumored to exceed $20 million to bring the retired boxer to the bare-knuckle promotion.
Mike Tyson declined the deal and ended up signing with the social media platform Triller. Mike is expected to fight Roy Jones Jr., in an exhibition bout scheduled for later this year.
VanZant announced the deal Wednesday through an Instagram live after posting a picture of her signing a contract.
Paige invited BKFC President Feldman to celebrate the announcement.
“I knew where my heart was along this whole journey,” she told the promoter. “Of course, you had to deal with my managers, which I’m sure was really fun, but my heart was in it.”
VanZant is expected to compete at 125 pounds. Feldman also announced that the promotion recently signed two dozen women fighters, many of whom also compete at 125 pounds. An opponent has yet to be determined but one of these ladies could be VanZant’s next opponent.
After making her desire for a raise publicly known, UFC President Dana White did not meet her demands and did not express any interest in re-signing the young star. Shortly after her last fight, Paige announced her purse of free agency.
VanZant’s UFC career ended with a bitter taste as she was submitted in the first round against Amanda Ribas. Many have criticized the UFC for matching her up with tough matchups.
BKFC President Feldman plans to build Paige with matchups that allow her to show her skills.
“I think she was not set up in bad positions, but not set up in the perfect conditions in the past, and we’re going to set her up for success,” he said. “I can’t throw Paige into the lion’s den the first fight. We have to do something that’s going to get her comfortable with this, and then the competition is going to get stiffer. But at the beginning, I think it’s a great way to build her.
“She can fight. She definitely has good hands. She has good knockouts under her belt. At the end of this deal, we’ve hopefully built her up as a superstar and we can extend with her.”