Doing her best to hold back the tears, Paige VanZant picked up her microphone to offer a reaction to her first loss in the UFC.
Faced with the toughest test — both on paper and actuality — of her young career, the 21-year-old Team Alpha Male fighter says she was “outclassed in every way.”
“I definitely have the heart, I have the aggression,” she said during the post-fight media conference. “I don’t have the technique yet and I think everyone has known that.”
It became readily apparent in the opening round that VanZant would struggle to compete against Rose Namajunas. “Thug” Rose dominated the stand-up, the grappling and everything in between. Bloodied but not beaten, VanZant managed to escape from several seemingly close submission attempts before finally tapping out in the fifth round.
“She’s got the dog in her,” UFC President Dana White said. “There’s no quit in her. I told her tonight, ‘You’ll learn more from this loss than you will from all your wins in the past. You saw it tonight, what she’s got. She’ll get better, keep working.”
Thursday night marked the first time in UFC history that two female fighters would headline an event in a non-title fight — just a smidgen of evidence highlighting the push VanZant had received from the promotion in recent months. With so much riding on her success, VanZant says the lead-up had no effect on her performance.
“There was no pressure,” VanZant said. “I’m just new, you know? I’ve got a lot to learn. Just working with my team.”