There was no denying that the cut to strawweight was a tough one for Paige VanZant.
Just 23 years old, VanZant was losing power and skill in getting down to compete in the UFC’s 115-pound division.
Now at flyweight, Oregon native is ready to leave her mark starting this Sunday night when she faces Jessica Rose-Clark at UFC Fight Night 124 on FOX Sports 1.
“I’m moving up to flyweight and I’m going to be stronger than I’ve ever been,” she said. “I’m going to be really fast, really strong and really powerful.”
VanZant made the decision to return home to train ahead of this fight, leaving her spot in California with Team Alpha Male. She lost to Michelle Waterson via technical submission late in 2016 after scoring a knockout of Bec Rawlings.
“It’s an awesome matchup,” VanZant said. “I’m excited that we’re going to be doing it here in St. Louis.”
Rose-Clark made her Octagon debut with a victory over Rawlings last year, giving VanZant a great study guide to prepare ahead of their contest. The 30-year-old Australian is 8-4 overall and on a two-fight win streak.
“Watching Bec and Jessica fight I saw a lot of similarities in their styles,” VanZant said. “She went out and put on a really good performance on short-notice, so I’m going to have to be ready.”
VanZant started her career with six wins among her first seven fights before she was submitted by current UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas back in 2015. She earned wins over Alex Chambers, Felice Herrig and Kailin Curran in her first three UFC appearances.
“I have a constant forward pressure and a lot of cardio, so I push the pace the entire fight,” VanZant said. “After I win this fight, I’m excited to make my stand in the flyweight division. I’m so excited to be in this division.”