Paige VanZant could by no means step foot inside the UFC’s Octagon ever once more, however “12 Gauge” doesn’t appear too bothered about that potential actuality.

VanZant 26, made her return to the Octagon after an 18-month layoff to problem rising ladies’s flyweight contender Amanda Ribas earlier this month at UFC 251. Regardless of her early efforts to pressure a grappling trade with Ribas, VanZant ultimately fell sufferer to an armbar end simply over two minutes into the primary spherical.

Making issues tougher for VanZant is the truth that she was on the final battle of her UFC contract. The family star had already instructed she was going to check free company heading into her bout with Ribas, in addition to stating that she might earn more money outdoors of UFC if she needed to.

“I simply needed to reside within the second as a result of I didn’t know what the longer term held,” VanZant advised MMA Preventing. “I didn’t know if that was my final UFC battle with me being on the final battle on my contract. I don’t know if the UFC’s going to re-sign me.

“It’s nonetheless up within the air and we’ll see what occurs if I find yourself going to a special promotion that I really feel values me a bit of bit larger. We simply don’t know. It was actually emotional.”

Whereas VanZant stays one of the recognizable names in feminine MMA in the present day she hasn’t been solely constant over her previous few Octagon appearances. The truth is, since her memorable switch-kick knockout over Bec Rawlings again in 2016 VanZant has solely managed to supply a 1-Three report inside the cage. She has battled by way of some accidents alongside the best way, however “12 Gauge” by no means appears to money in when it issues most.

That was on full show this previous weekend at UFC 251 when VanZant wager on herself and ended up shedding the ultimate battle on her contract.

“That is the precise battle the UFC needed,” VanZant stated. “They type of do that to individuals after they’re on the final battle on their contract. They offer them, like, the proper fashion matchup. I went towards any individual, she’s 10-1, I’ve nearly had layoffs, calculating like three years I’ve solely been capable of battle as soon as trigger I maintain getting injured.

“Clearly, it was the very hardest opponent they may give me for my one returning battle I had left. I didn’t play into what the UFC needed. After all, I nonetheless had confidence going into it. Amanda was so gifted. I’m so excited to see the place her profession goes.”

Following VanZant’s loss to Ribas at UFC 251, UFC president Dana White said that he thought Paige acquired “smoked” and that she ought to “positively” check free company. White has at all times appeared to have an excellent relationship with VanZant however these feedback recommend he’s prepared to show the web page on the younger star.

“Truthfully, I didn’t really see particularly the quote or what he stated. I strive not to concentrate an excessive amount of,” VanZant stated. “It’s unlucky as a result of I really feel like I’ve a extremely good relationship with Dana.

“I really feel like I believed we had been nearer associates and he might textual content me or name me. One thing to have a bit of little bit of compassion, one thing to speak with me personally however possibly he’ll. We simply don’t know. I’m certain it’s an uncomfortable scenario.”

“I’ve by no means spoken negatively concerning the UFC,” VanZant reiterated. “I’m not bitter about the place I’m in my profession, bitter concerning the place that the UFC has put me in in any way. I simply felt like for myself, I needed to check free company and that’s not as a result of I dislike the UFC or dislike Dana or anyone.

“I know how my profession has seemed the previous few years however I additionally know the expertise that I’ve fought towards. The mixed report of the individuals who have beat me is fairly excessive. Dropping to the individuals I’ve misplaced to, I nonetheless think about myself top-of-the-line athletes on the planet. I do know I’m going to be a champion. I do know that I’ll come again and maintain preventing for a lot of, a few years.”

Whereas VanZant might not be somebody who suits into the UFC’s future plans the veteran fighter is somebody that can entice curiosity from nearly each different main MMA promotion. Bellator MMA president Scott Coker has already said that he’s involved in signing “12 Gauge” and we’re just one week faraway from her last UFC bout.

“Dana’s feedback, what I’m listening to you say, he needs me to check free company then hopefully they simply let me go then,” VanZant stated. “If that’s how they really feel, then they’ll simply let me be free.”

Stick to Mania for extra information on VanZant’s subsequent transfer.