Paige VanZant has already accomplished what most fighters her age can only dream of: signing a contract with the UFC.
VanZant, who goes by the nickname “12 Gauge,” was one of several 115-pound fighters from Invicta Fighting Championships to sign with the largest MMA promotion in 2013. She was set to compete on the upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter” – which will feature 16 fighters competing for a chance to become the promotion’s first women’s strawweight champion – however the Nevada-native was left off of the cast because she was too young.
Despite not appearing on the show, VanZant is still with the UFC. While the promotion has already put on two amazing strawweight bouts in earlier this month, 12 Gauge’s octagon debut remains a mystery. But there is one opponent who has her sights set on VanZant: Finnish fighter Tina “Jelly Bean” Lahdemaki.
After coming up short in her octagon debut against Claudia Gadelha, Lahdemaki said in an interview with MMAJunkie that she would like to fight on the UFC’s Stockholm card in October. She said she would fight “anyone that the UFC seems appropriate” to put across from her in the octagon.
“But now that Lima also has a loss from her debut, I could see myself fighting her. And I heard that Paige VanZant was also signed by the UFC and hasn’t got a fight yet, so I would be more than happy to welcome her to the UFC.”
I think the Finnish fighter would be a good test for VanZant. She has a wealth of experience in the sport and is a well-rounded fighter. Although VanZant may lack Lahdemaki’s experience, she has faced some tough competition in her short time with the sport. She also trains with Team Alpha Male, which has produced several great fighters in the lighter weight classes over the years. With Alpha Male fighters having recent success – including T.J. Dillashaw capturing the UFC bantamweight crown from Renan Barao – VanZant is sure to have a great training that would prepare her for Lahdemaki or any other challenger.
One aspect that would make the fight interesting is the environment. It would be VanZant’s first time competing outside of the United States and she may find herself in hostile territory with Stockholm being close to Lahdemaki’s native country of Finland. Who knows, the atmosphere may have no affect on VanZant.
VanZant’s popularity continues to rise and with it, the anticipation of her UFC debut. But only time – and the UFC brass – will tell when she will officially step foot in the octagon. Let’s hope it’s not too long of a wait.
Who would you like to see Lahdemaki face in her next bout? Answer with a comment below or send a tweet to @cagepagesfs.