Former UFC fighter Paige VanZant made a surprise move on Wednesday when she inked a deal with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship instead of Bellator MMA, as many had expected. The news was first reported by ESPN.She said her new contract with BKF is a four-fight exclusive deal.VanZant fought the final bout of her UFC contract on July 123, losing via a first-round armbar to Amanda Ribas at UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi. The bout was VanZant's first fight in a year and a half because she had been dealing with several injuries.Though VanZant was one of the UFC's brightest stars when she first entered the Octagon, winning her first three bouts, she managed just a 2-4 record over the final six bouts of her tenure.Moving over to BKFC, VanZant will forego mixed martial arts to focus on her boxing, which includes a move to American Top Team in Florida. She hopes to fight for BKFC as soon as November."It was an amazing contract, an amazing opportunity," VanZant told ESPN. "I also feel like it's not a move backwards for me. It's a lateral move to a new opportunity, a new challenge, a brand new sport. I really have sparked a brand new passion for it and especially for striking in general."And, on top of that, I feel like I still have this stigma in MMA that I'm just a pretty face, and what a way to prove to be people that's not the way I see myself at all."VanZant, however, insists that she hasn't necessarily made a permanent move away from MMA."I don't know that I am done with MMA," VanZant said. "I know momentarily I am. I still have a huge passion for MMA, and I just recently relocated to Florida to train with American Top Team. Obviously, they are one of the best MMA gyms in the world. Right now, my sole focus is boxing, but in a few years I could go back to MMA or I could just be making so much doing this bare knuckle boxing that I don't do anything else."* * *TRENDING > Check out Sean O’Malley’s blistering knockout of Eddie Wineland (UFC 252 free fight)* * *https://www.instagram.com/p/CDzNrMtHURd/
UFC president Dana White hasn't yet said when another run on Fight Island will happen, but rest assured, it is going to happen. And while the first stint in Abu Dhabi was four events over a 15-day period (about a three to four-week period with travel and prep time), White intends for the UFC's next run on Yas Island to be somewhere around five to six weeks.It also sounds as if UFC 253, which features middleweight champion Israel Adesanya defending against Paulo Costa in the main event, is likely to land on Fight Island.White was a bit elusive about confirming the bout for the next trip to Abu Dhabi, but didn't deny it either.“I told you guys we were going back to Abu Dhabi,” he said when asked about Adesanya vs. Costa's location. “I think this next run in Abu Dhabi will be five or six weeks.”That followed an earlier interview with Complex, in which he stated, "Yeah, we'll be announcing (Adesanya vs. Costa) soon, but it's looking like Fight Island. A lot of the big fights that are international are gonna be on Fight Island."I told everybody last time we were there – people sort of thought this was a one-and-done or whatever, it's not – Abu Dhabi is gonna end up being the fight capital of the world. It definitely isn't Las Vegas."White also reaffirmed his intent to purchase a home in Abu Dhabi, believing that the UFC will be operating events there often enough that it would be more comfortable for him to have his own residence there.The delay in announcing whether or not UFC 253 would be held on Fight Island could simply be timing of marketing or perhaps the UFC is still working out details with Abu Dhabi for a second run on Yas Island. But whatever the determining factor, White is certain that the UFC will return to Fight Island soon.“I do (when the UFC will return to Abu Dhabi), but when the time comes, I’ll announce it.”* * *TRENDING > Yoel Romero out of UFC on ESPN 15 co-main event* * * Dana White talks Fight Island, Contender Series, UFC rankings, and more(Video courtesy of Complex)
Bookmakers at the MGM Grand have the bout at pick ’em as fight night nears.