UFC star Paige VanZant ready to stand up to online critics

Updated April 1, 2019 - 10:11 pm

UFC standout Paige VanZant seems to be even busier during her time away from competition than when she’s actually able to fight in the octagon.

The 25-year-old fighter, who will appear in the upcoming Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, will make her color-commentating debut on Thursday’s M1 Global card on UFC Fight Pass as she recovers from her second broken arm in less than a year.

“My management team asked if I would be interested in it, and I jumped at it,” the women’s flyweight contender said on the Review-Journal’s RJ Ringside podcast. “M1-Global is so big overseas, and the fact they’re coming to the U.S. is huge, so just to be part of the whole experience is so exciting to me.”

Not that she needed the extra work. VanZant has appeared on “Dancing With the Stars” and “Chopped.” She also released her autobiography last year.

Still, her main focus is a fighting career that is once again on temporary hold after her surgically repaired arm broke around the plate that was inserted when she got hurt last year.

“Once my love for the sport goes away, maybe the injuries would be a little more daunting,” said VanZant, who submitted Rachael Ostovich in January after more than a year out of action. “Right now, I’m just trying to do everything I can to get it healed so I can go back in there. I just love it. I’ll go through hell and high water for the people and things I love. Part of that is fighting. My career is nowhere near over.”

VanZant said one thing she is done with is holding back when it comes to dealing with online critics.

“I don’t need to always hold my tongue. I need to share my opinion and it does matter,” she said of the stream of negative and often sexually explicit comments.

“When I’ve had people attack me, it’s like, you know what, I’m someone’s daughter. I am a real person with emotions and feelings and there’s these awful people in the world who forget that. It’s been a learning process, but I just have to remind myself they don’t hate me, they hate themselves. It’s a sad world, but hopefully I can really start standing up for myself and everyone else out there. I think I need to say, ‘Hey, you guys are being (expletives) and it needs to stop.’

“There shouldn’t be these 35-year-old men bullies on Instagram.”

The M-1 Global card will stream on UFC Fight Pass from Yuma, Arizona, on Thursday.

Magomedov banned

Heavyweight Ruslan Magomedov has become the first UFC fighter to receive a lifetime ban from USADA under the organization’s anti-doping policy.

The sanction was announced Monday after Magomedov was assessed a second and third violation of the policy. He failed an out-of-competition drug test in October for multiple anabolic agents, then refused to submit to a test in February.

“Refusing or failing to submit to sample collection, without compelling justification, is a doping violation under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy,” USADA wrote in a statement.

The 32-year-old went 3-0 in the UFC, last competing in a decision over Shawn Jordan in 2015. His first failed test resulted in a two-year ban in 2016.

UFC 239 taking shape

Former champion Junior dos Santos will fight Las Vegan Francis Ngannou in a heavyweight contender bout as part of a loaded UFC 239 card July 6 at T-Mobile Arena.

The bout joins two title fights on the pay-per-view card of the organization’s annual International Fight Week event.

A welterweight contender bout between Jorge Masvidal and Ben Askren is also expected to take place on the card.

Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones will headline the event with a title defense against rising contender Thiago Santos. Also on the card is two-division champion Amanda Nunes, who will put her bantamweight belt on the line against former champ Holly Holm.

More MMA: Follow at CoveringTheCage.com and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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