Paige VanZant continues to recover from an arm injury suffered in her bout against Jessica-Rose Clark last year after having recently undergone another surgery on her left arm. But Paige still has an estimate timetable in mind for when she would like to make her return to competition (Transcript via Bloody Elbow):
“I’m aiming for – there’s always a really big card at the end of the year for the UFC – so I’m hoping for that end of the year card,” VanZant said in an appearance on The Ariel Helwani MMA Show.
The last time VanZant competed was against Rachael Ostovich in January at UFC Brooklyn in a bout where VanZant took home the submission victory. And if VanZant gets her wish and fights on the final big pay per view of 2019, that could very well be the final time we see the popular star in the UFC, as she has decided to test free agency after her next contest:
“I am, yeah,” VanZant said regarding her contract plans. “You know, it’s more for me, I want to prove my worth. And obviously, with my arm injuries I’ve had three surgeries in a row now. Even though I’m so popular, I guess… I’ve been doing amazing things outside the UFC—Sports Illustrated, Dancing with the Stars, all these amazing things. I want to show, ‘Hey, I’m a huge player in this division. I’m a huge player in the UFC.’ And I think it’s going to take one more fight to do that.”
But right now, the number-one priority for the 25-year-old is to return to competition and be able to show the UFC and the rest of the world that is as valuable inside of the cage as she is outside of it:
“And more than anything, I’m just focused on getting back in the cage,” VanZant expressed. “I don’t want to put any pressure on myself, or any stress behind anything. I just want to fight.”
What do you believe the odds are that we see Paige VanZant fight outside of the UFC at some point in her mixed martial arts career?