At 21 years old, many looked upon Paige VanZant as the potential future of the UFC’s strawweight division. Even after suffering her first Octagon defeat to former title contender Rose Namajunas early December, some notable figures still look at the Team Alpha Male fighter as a future titleholder.
“It was an amazing fight between Paige and Rose, and a difficult fight for Paige VanZant,” Jedrzejczyk recently told MMA Fighting. “So Rose did well. She didn’t fight that much after TUF but she showed that she’s game. And Paige VanZant, she’s still young, but she’s very talented and she’s a bad ass. She’s got the character. She still must learn a lot, but she’s a very good fight. In the future for sure she will become a UFC champion.”
VanZant had three relatively impressive performance against Kailin Curran in her UFC debut. She followed the victory up with a unanimous-decision win over TUF alum Felice Herrig and submission victory over Alex Chambers.
That was all before running into “Thug” Rose at UFC Fight Night 80 in Las Vegas.
Namajunas steamrolled past VanZant for nearly five full rounds before sinking in a rear-naked choke against “12 Gauge,” who fought off several other submission attempts before tapping out with a little over two minutes left in the contest.
Shortly after the loss, VanZant acknowledged that while she had the heart and aggression, she lacked technique. Though, at just over 20 years old, “12 Gauge” likely has plenty of years ahead of her to build on what gaps exist in her game.