It's been nearly a year since Ronda Rousey last stepped foot in the octagon. Since her loss to Holly Holm in UFC 193, her long-held bantamweight championship title has exchanged several hands. While UFC awaits Rousey's return, another fighter is quickly emerging to take away the biggest title Rousey ever held: being the Face of UFC.
Paige VanZant—both literally and figuratively—could be the face of UFC and with just four fights under her belt, her fight Saturday night could be the spring board she needs to really launch into the limelight.
She's already well-known outside the realm of fighting, having been a runner-up on Dancing with the Stars and has over one million Instagram followers. It stands to reason she'll bring that following over to UFC with her.
Urijah Faber, a bantamweight contender and VanZant's trainer, believes she's much more than a pretty face with a celebrity-like following.
"She's got all the makings—the heart, the conditioning, the athleticism—of a top-level, champion fighter, and she's got nothing but time to add to that," Faber said.
At just 22, she also has age on her side.
"Paige is in a very unique situation," Faber said. "She's young in the sport. She's been thrown into the limelight; she's never been a celebrity before, she hasn't been a lifetime combat athlete. She's just a talented girl that believes in herself and is getting good quick."
Will all of these elements translate into her becoming the face of the sport? It's far too early to tell. But with Rousey still away from the sport, the opportunity is there for the taking. Making a statement Saturday night against Bec Rawlings brings her one step closer.
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