‘I’d LOVE to fight you’: MMA babe VanZant taunts first Bare Knuckle FC opponent in ‘painful’ attempt at WWE-style acting in ring
Ex-UFC fighter and social media sensation Paige VanZant has been called cringeworthy by fans after naming her first bare knuckle opponent, stepping inside the ring to confront Britain Hart in an excruciating set-up.
After co-commentating on experienced boxer Hart’s first Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) win, promotion newcomer VanZant stepped inside the ring to attempt some wrestling-style smack-talk as she confirmed her first scrap in her new discipline.
The hugely popular pin-up had been eager to announce more details after revealing that her bow would take place in Florida on February 5, coinciding with Super Bowl weekend.
“I would love to fight you,” a somewhat wooden-sounding VanZant told Hart after a scripted opening challenge from her victorious rival.
— The Koncrete Jungle (@TheKJungle) November 14, 2020
That was by far the most cringe I’ve seen in a long time hopefully someone clipped that
— philosopher gardner/possibly allegedly @stool_gate (@PicoGate) November 14, 2020
— Jose Ramirez 🛑 (@Von_Weeden) November 14, 2020
“It sounds like an easy win for me, so thank you.”
VanZant offered precious little of the animosity beloved of promoters in maximizing interest and pay-per-view numbers, grinning as she meekly informed Hart of her confidence.
“That was by far the most cringe I’ve seen in a long time,” said one viewer, while others voiced familiar concerns that VanZant, who was not known for her punch power during her underwhelming UFC career, will not fare well in her new sport.
“The lucky girl that gets to fight Paige VanZant is going to murder her unless BKFC select a can for her to crush,” one had warned, while writer Scott Christ pointed out that Hart is a “credible” opponent with a respectable 11-fight boxing record that includes only one defeat in her last six encounters.
Hart described herself as a fighter who “loves being aggressive” after adapting her tactics to beat a taller opponent with a longer reach in Eckholm.
Carrying a few scars on her face after the victory, the 30-year-old American said of VanZant: “I knew that I was going to call her out. I know that I want that fight.
“To see her get up in her heels and come in the ring just makes it that much more ready and real. I’m excited that it went down like that.
“Not only is it the fight that I want – it’s the fight that everyone wants.
A preview of what Paige VanZant will look like following her Bare Knuckle Boxing debut pic.twitter.com/eRm8FKkYXU
— MMA Storytime (@_mmastorytime_) November 14, 2020
— Kevin Beninati (@Cheesehead891) November 14, 2020
The lucky girl that gets to fight Paige Vanzant is going to murder her unless BKFC selects a can for her to crush
— RUSH HOUR MMA (@MMABudz) November 14, 2020
“Now she wants it too, so we’re all on the same page.”
While VanZant has more than 2.7 million Instagram followers and has admitted in the past that she can make as much money from social media as fighting, Hart has a more modest audience of around 4,400, combining her love of combat with a job at a Virginia restaurant and the support of sponsors.
Despite the misgivings of some fighters and fans over her career move, VanZant’s fighter husband has claimed that the switch will improve her ringcraft following her low-key departure from the UFC after a first-round defeat in July.
“She’s more than likely going to come back to MMA,” Vanderford told The Telegraph, speaking after his own Bellator MMA victory last week.
“She wants to try to work on becoming a more well-rounded fighter. I’m biased but in my opinion she will be one of the best in the world.
“She felt, at this point in her career, that she needed to make some changes to continue to compete with the top girls.
“What she’s going to do now will extend the longevity of her career. I know that sounds ironic since she’s going to fight in bare knuckle.
“But she’s only 26 and this gives her the opportunity to work on some things – really work on her striking.”
VanZant cheered Vanderford on as he earned a decision victory over Vinicius de Jesus at Bellator 251, celebrating with him in the cage and traveling with him to hospital as he underwent surgery on his hand following the fight.
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