Paige VanZant may be a star to casual UFC fans thanks to her traditional good looks and runner-up performance on Dancing With the Stars, but for some hardcore viewers of MMA and a few of her fellow fighters, she’s everything that’s wrong with MMA’s turn towards entertainment over sport. When PVZ loses, the schadenfreude is strong. Nevermind the fact that she’s out there at 23 years old, fighting some of the best in the world and knocking some of them out in spectacular fashion — most believe that the reason she’s getting money, mainstream media pushes, and headlining fight cards because she’s a pretty young blonde girl.
It’s well-known that before Rose Namajunas bloodied VanZant and made her tap, she shaved her head because she didn’t want to be involved in a “beauty pageant.” It didn’t make things easier on PVZ when the UFC didn’t allow her to cut her hair for children’s cancer research.
All of this has led to backlash towards “12 Guage” whenever it’s “appropriate.” The latest outrage comes to us thanks to a video from VanZant pushing the latest Reebok “black and white” line of products that has since been deleted. Almost immediately after posting, fighters and fans were wondering what it was they were watching. Here it is:
It’s (mostly) the fighters who are in her weight class that had the biggest problem with this video, mixed with the outspoken ONE FC welterweight champ Ben Askren and an up and coming UFC fighter.
No one can fault PVZ for wanting to get paid. She’s one of the few fighters with an exclusive Reebok contract while the rest of the roster is stuck with the incredibly divisive and relatively low-paying sponsorship deal that was forced on them a few years ago. It’s clear that this isn’t so much a knock on PVZ, but the fighters (and fans) railing against the favoritism shown towards VanZant is more of a knock on Dana White and the UFC than Paige herself, to a degree. She’s just doing her job, and some fans get that.
Of course, none of this changes the fact that Reebok’s homogenization of the personalities within the sport has negatively affected everyone involved, but that’s not Paige’s fault even if people out there want it to be.