When Paige VanZant signed with the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship last year, fans, by and large, did not know quite what to expect. VanZant had never boxed before, and the idea of a former Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model turning to the grisly sport of bare-knuckle boxing turned heads and piqued the curiosity of many.
We got our first glimpse of VanZant in the BKFC space in February when she lost to Britain Hart via unanimous decision, despite entering the fight as the betting favorite. VanZant was again favored in her follow-up bout against former UFC opponent Rachael Ostovich at BKFC 19, and she once again ended up on the wrong side of a decision in her second main event in the promotion.
It’s no secret that VanZant has drawing power and is particularly a big fish in the BKFC pond, so it’s hard to imagine her competing in a BKFC event without being the headliner. That being said, it’s also no secret that VanZant is now 0-2 in the promotion, and even company president Dave Feldman admits that she is running out of time.
“Absolutely she’s in a must-win situation,” Feldman told MMA Fighting about VanZant. “I thought she was in a must-win situation in this fight but she performed very well. I thought as to the fact that they won Fight of the Night honors. I thought that she was in a must-win coming in. She lost and I still think that we’re in the Paige VanZant business.
“But with that being said, I absolutely think she’s in a must-win [situation]. I can’t keep saying ‘she fought really good, now let’s see what happens next time.’ Eventually and now’s the time, she has to come out with a victory. Like I said, we’ll sit down with her team and see what happens. I think we’re all going to move forward together, but you’re absolutely right, she’s in a must-win situation without a doubt.”
There is always a chance that VanZant and the BKFC will part ways, but Feldman anticipates that we will see the former Dancing With The Stars contestant back to box again. However, if she loses for a third straight time, making her record 0-3 in the promotion, he again hinted that it could be for the last time.
“We’re going to sit down with her and her team and see what makes sense next,” Feldman said. “I think you’re going to see Paige back in the squared circle, I really, really truly do. I think we’re going to come to terms on what we need to do as a team, all of us collectively, and what she needs to do to deliver to keep doing this thing. Thing is, after this fight, she said ‘I’ll be back.’ She doesn’t want to quit. That’s the thing I love about her.”
Do you think Paige VanZant made a mistake by joining the BKFC?