Sport

Paige VanZant's meteoric rise in UFC

Published 0904 GMT (1704 HKT) October 8, 2019
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01 Paige VanZant FILE01 Paige VanZant FILE
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After making her professional MMA debut as a teenager, VanZant's rise has been swift. She was one of 11 women signed to the UFC's newly created Strawweight division and made her UFC debut against Kailin Curran. Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
After only one UFC fight, in February 2015, VanZant became only the sixth UFC fighter to land an individualized Reebok deal -- a signing that was criticized by other UFC fighters. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images North America/Getty Images for Reebok
VanZant has spoken openly about the pay gap that exists in the UFC. She admitted to being paid more for her sponsored Instagram posts than fighting in the UFC. Alex Trautwig/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
"I genuinely believe -- and I don't know if we're ever going to get a true answer from the promotional companies -- that the women outsell the male fighters," VanZant said. CNN has requested figures from UFC on how receipts compare between female and male fighters but has not received a response at the time of publication. Alex Trautwig/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Outside of the UFC, VanZant has made appearances on Dancing with the Stars and Chopped and has amassed over two million Instagram followers. Alongside husband and fellow MMA fighter Austin Vanderford, they have become MMA's premiere power couple. Handout/Getty Images Europe/Web Summit via Getty Images
After being a victim of bullying at various points in her upbringing, VanZant says she has used MMA fighting as her way of "fighting back." Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
VanZant made her return from her first broken arm against Rachael Ostovich on January 19, 2019 -- she won the fight via an armbar submission in the second round. Sarah Stier/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Although she had been hoping to return to the Octogan in the summer, VanZant suffered yet another injury setback, discovering she needed more arm surgery. She has only recently returned to training. Sarah Stier/Getty Images North America/Getty Images