Rising star and UF darling Paige VanZant is headlining her first event for the promotion at UFC Fight Night 80 which is the event that kicks off three consecutive cards in the fight capital of the world. It is hosted Thursday at the Cosmo in Vegas, then the TUF 22 finale runs at the Cosmo as well of Friday, and it culminates with UFC 194 on Saturday at the MGM where McGregor and Aldo are finally set to do battle.
VanZant was originally supposed to be a contestant on TUF 20 and vie for the UFC Strawweight title. Unfortunately, at just 20 years of age she was not allowed to compete on the alcohol influenced reality show and had to wait to compete. She was lined up for a fight in August of 2014, but a back injury forced her to wait until November where she took on Kailin Curran and won Fight of the Night Honors and her first UFC win.
She followed that performance up by knocking off Felice Herrig in her next bout and proving she was more than hype. And just this September 5th, she took out the Australian born fighter Alex Chambers by armbar in the third round. VanZant has signed an exclusive deal with Rebook and now has herself a brand new UFC contract. At her last fight, VanZant only pulled in $24,000 which is not much for how much attention she brings to the card which is evident by her already headlining a fight card in just her 4th UFC appearance. Only McGregor has done it faster in three UFC fights.
Now, he takes on Joanne Calderwood who will be her toughest competition to date despite only being 2-1 in the UFC. Calderwood’s career record sits at 9-1 with her only loss being a surprise submission loss to Maryna Moroz. A lot of people were angling for a matchup between VanZant and Randa Markos but it looks like the timing just does not workout. With a win in this fight, it is not hard seeing Van Zant fighting for the title in early 2016. While Valarie Letourneau has the next shot and Claudia Gadelha is supposedly next in line, with four straight wins all over quality competition how could you deny VanZant her shot?