Spending almost six years competing in the UFC, Paige VanZant left the promotion in 2020, claiming that the UFC should further appreciate her comments. After spending some time on the free market, Paige VanZant got offered an exclusivity contract with the BKFC.
Although BKFC was the first bare-knuckle fighting promotion to be sanctioned in the United States in 2018, the combat sport still has its doubters. Many see it as a raw version of MMA, offering unnecessary danger to the athletes.
However, Paige VanZant thinks that the risk is worthwhile. She revealed that the BFKC will pay her ten times more money than the UFC used to.
"I'm here for a reason. I was in the UFC for six years, getting paid $40,000 [to perform] and $40,000 [to win], and now I'm getting ten times that doing what I love," Paige VanZant said ahead of her debut. "So, obviously, I'm not going anywhere. I'm very happy fighting here, and I'm excited to fight."
Paige VanZant will headline the BFKC "KnuckleMania" event against Hart, who already had three bare-knuckle bouts in her career. The event will happen at Bert's Barracuda Harley-Davidson in Clearwater, Florida.
Did Paige VanZant join BKFC only for the money?
Even though Paige VanZant decided to leave the UFC because she felt her value was not recognized enough and signed with a promotion that will pay her ten times more money, the fighter believes that bare-knuckle fighting is where she belongs.
"I was really fortunate coming from the UFC that I did have so many organizations [that] reached out, and I truly wasn't sure where my career was going to go. I had two big offers that were in competition: this one or Bellator, which my husband [Austin Vanderford] fights for. I know I had a lot of people – my coaches, my husband – they all wanted me to go to Bellator. But I had to go where my passion lies, and I truly know this is the organization I belong with. This is the one I was most passionate about. This is where I see myself being the most successful," said Paige VanZant. "I absolutely love my striking, it's what I was known for in the UFC, so I'm excited to come in here and show how tough I am. One thing I've carried throughout my entire career is: No one can say I'm definitely not one tough chick, and I plan to show that I'm very fortunate I'm in a position where I love the organization I fight for."
Paige VanZant's first opponent at BKFC, Britain Hart, holds a record of two losses and one win in the promotion. Hart made a daring call-out directed at Paige VanZant as soon as her signing was announced.
"I'm excited to go out and obviously prove her wrong," Paige VanZant said. "I know where I belong, and I'm happy here."