5 Things You Might Not Know About Paige VanZant

By Guy Portman Jan 13, 2019

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Having lost her previous two contests, Paige VanZant (7-4) will look to right the ship against Rachael Ostovich Saturday at UFC Fight Night 143 in Brooklyn, New York.

As we approach the pivotal clash, here are five things that you might not know about the 24-year-old known as “12 Gauge”:

She likes dancing.

VanZant spent her formative years in Oregon, where her parents ran a dance studio. Under their influence, the future fighter blossomed into an enthusiastic and talented dancer. In 2016, she was a participant on Season 22 of “Dancing with the Stars.” VanZant and her dance partner’s impressive performances saw them make it all the way to the final. In 2009, the then-teenage VanZant and her family left Oregon and moved to Sparks, Nevada. She was on the lookout for a dance school when she came across Ken Shamrock’s Lion’s Den gym. It was there that she began her mixed martial arts journey. The flexibility, agility and balance that she honed during her years of dancing would prove beneficial in her chosen career path.

She was given her nickname by her father.

Growing up, VanZant was regarded as something of a tomboy due to her love of the outdoors. Dirt bikes, hunting and fishing were all activities that appealed to the athletic youngster. It was her father who first gave her the moniker, “12-gauge.” He chose it because of her fondness for shooting and the name wound up sticking.

She is married to an MMA fighter.

VanZant wed her spouse Austin Vanderford in September of last year. The newlyweds reside in Oregon and train at Gracie Barra Portland. Vanderford is an unbeaten 6-0 welterweight prospect and former collegiate wrestling star. The sporty pair often post photographs of themselves training on social media. Like his other half, Vanderford’s moniker is a gun, as he goes by “AK-47.”

She has worked as a model.

VanZant has previously been employed as a model for a number of popular athletic clothing brands, most notably Columbia Sportswear and Nike. Although the vivacious blonde MMA combatant has put the modelling aside for the time being, VanZant remains in demand. Her good looks and youthful effervescence have resulted in her being one of the more marketable athletes on the UFC’s roster. According to her manager, she’s always being sought for interviews. Her popularity is evident from her considerable social media presence, where she has 1.9 million followers on Instagram.

She has released a book.

In April of last year, VanZant released her biography, Rise: Surviving the Fight of My Life. The book reveals details of her time on “Dancing with the Stars,” her ascent up the MMA ladder, and the personal struggles that she faced during her youth. While in high school, she was subjected to persistent bullying and sexual assault, the effects of which she overcame by devoting herself to the gym. The biography has been well-received and currently boasts an impressive 4.26/5 rating on the popular literature site Goodreads. One standout quote from the book reads, “I inhale the power. I exhale the bullsh*t. One strike at a time.” Advertisement


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