UFC star Paige VanZant recently made the revealing comment that she earns more from her Instagram account than actually fighting. It’s part of today’s reality, as social media influencers are able to bank off their followers and score endorsement deals. It also sheds light on how her sport which can involve injury and disfigurement is less lucrative for her. So who is Paige VanZant, Instagram star and UFC fighter?
Paige VanZant’s mixed martial arts career
Paige VanZant is just 5-foot-4 and 125 pounds so she’s been part of the UFC’s Strawweight and Flyweight divisions for female competitors. Her career started back in 2012. After going 3-1 in fights for UWF and Invicta FC, she headed to UFC. She first joined in December 2013 for the newly-created Strawweight division as one of 11 women the company signed.
Paige won her UFC debut match in October 2014 as she defeated Kailin Curran by TKO. She’d follow with two more wins to set up a nice streak, before falling to the talented Rose Namajunas at a 2015 UFC Fight Night event the women headlined.
She’d follow that up with a win in 2016 over Bec Rawlings, but then suffered back-to-back losses against Michelle Waterson and Jessica-Rose Clark. Her most recent fight came in January of this year. Paige bounced back with a win via armor submission over Rachael Ostovich. As of right now, Paige holds an overall MMA record of 8-4. Check out her official UFC profile here.
Paige’s celebrity endeavors fuel popularity
There have been plenty of popular female fighters from UFC including Ronda Rousey who transitioned to WWE and movies. Paige VanZant has also transitioned to outside activities to help increase her overall popularity.
That includes going on ABC’s dance competition show, Dancing With the Stars. Paige appeared on season 22 of the show and was partnered with Mark Ballas. She did quite well too, as she and Mark reached the finals of the season, but came in second-place as Nyle DiMarco and Petra Murgatroyd claimed the Mirrorball Trophy. Even so, her appearance on that show definitely helped with gaining more fans.
In addition to that, Paige competed on the show Chopped. It’s not quite as high-profile as DWTS but involved celebrities competing on the Food Network’s TV series. Paige won that competition, which featured 16 other celebs as she edged out figure skater Dorothy Hamill.
There’s also the appearance in the popular Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Paige is featured in the 2019 issue and has shared several photos and videos from her experience on her Instagram page. The one below has racked up over one million views.
The UFC fighter, model, and endorser admitted she had “breast augmentation” to enhance her look. Per Maxim in 2018, Paige said, “I’m a girl and always wanted my own boobs. They never came so I bought them.”
Paige’s Instagram shares personal life, UFC, & more
All of the above has led to success and popularity for Paige VanZant, who now has over 2.3 million followers on her Instagram page. She routinely shows off photos from her personal life which includes training, attending various events and pitching select products. That’s where she scores more money than from participating in UFC fights.
“I make way more money sitting at home, posting pictures on Instagram, than I do fighting.”@paigevanzant says her endorsement earnings greatly outpace her fight earnings (via @arielhelwani) pic.twitter.com/dpdANFcbxU
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) August 26, 2019
Paige originally hails from Oregon. The 24-year-old is now happily married to fellow MMA fighter Austin Vanderford. The two fighters were engaged last year after dating since 2017. They officially married in September of 2018.
She regularly posts pictures alongside her husband, or of his training or fights on her Instagram page. She has also taken his last name of Vanderford on her profile.
While Paige VanZant last fought in the Octagon back in January 2019, it’s currently unknown when she’ll compete again. That said, she’s made it known she does quite well just off Instagram, and she’s amongst many celebrities and influencers out there who have turned social media into a profitable venture.