We can try to convince ourselves otherwise, but sex sells, and when you can have a gorgeous-looking person doing something vs. somebody who looks like the rest of us, the one gifted with beauty is going to get more attention. Hot actresses get more roles, hot singers get more TV time, and in the world of MMA, you can make an argument that hot fighters get the most attention.
Would Ronda Rousey have been as big a star for Ultimate Fighting Championship if she weren’t also capable of posing in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue wearing nothing but body paint? Prior to Rousey, Gina Carano was the woman of the moment, and it doesn’t take 20/20 vision to recognize her model good looks.
So who is the hottest woman in the Octagon these days? We’re going to go out on a limb and say that it’s the woman who can actually claim to be the hottest ever to fight. We’re talking about none other than Paige VanZant. Whether it’s reality shows, revealing Instagram shots, or mixing it up with her competitors, she’s starting to transcend the sport like few others.
The reason she’s transcending is her looks. Yes, she’s smart, funny and has great charisma, but there are plenty of female fighters who can claim the same. However, they don’t have the face and the body of Paige VanZant. Don’t believe us? Fine. We’ll prove it to you. Here are 15 Photos Proving Paige VanZant is the Hottest UFC fighter of All Time.
In a world where it takes a lot to shock anybody, it was kind of surprising when in early May, Paige posted a video pushing the “black and white collection” of her sponsor, Reebok, and it got a ton of backlash. In the 44-second video, Paige lifts her white sweater several times and shows a black Reebok sports bra underneath. The end of the video has her rolling around on the floor a little bit, but it probably wouldn’t have even earned a PG-13 rating. When the Instagram video hit the Internet, it was the talk of every MMA bulletin board. The video was deleted by VanZant’s mother, who also happens to be her manager. Paige just took the whole thing in stride, saying, “It was me being funny, I thought. I think my mom deleted it, so it’s my mom being a mom.”
We saw Legally Blonde once and promised ourselves we’d never sit through it again, but we’d watch that piece of cinematic crap 100 times if meant getting to ditch Reese Witherspoon in the lead role and putting the hottest UFC fighter ever into the role. This picture was probably taken for Halloween or some costume party, but we prefer to think that every Thursday night, Paige VanZant dresses up like sexy characters from popular movies. If that’s the case, we request that she consider Wonder Woman, Cleopatra, and Showgirls. Seeing Paige in this bunny outfit makes us remember that Playboy magazine is back to showing nudity. There have been plenty of UFC ring girls shown in the buff; isn’t it about time she show that the women in the octagon can pose, too? As long as her mom is her manager, we’re guessing this isn’t going to happen.
At the time we’re writing this, Paige VanZant is 7-3 and ranked No. 10 in the strawweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championships. She would easily kick the butts of 99% of the women who are 115 pounds and stand 5-foot, 4-inches tall who walk the streets, but realistically, she isn’t going to have a Ronda Rousey or Miesha Tate-level career inside the octagon. She’s already showing that wandering eye, taking advantage of opportunities like Dancing With the Stars, Chopped, and talk show appearances -- and at 23 years old and with a boatload of charisma, there’s no telling how far she could go. We look at it like we do Anna Kournikova in tennis. She was an amazing player, but she will never be placed among the all-time greats. She will be remembered as one of the all-time beauties, so before anybody caves in her real moneymaker, or she goes on an extended losing streak and people stop talking about her, Paige should be saying yes to as many opportunities as she can in entertainment.
If you’re ever looking for the most awesome weigh-in across the storied history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, it doesn’t feature anyone with the last name "Gracie," "Lesnar," or "McGregor." We should probably clarify that by "the most awesome," we mean "the sexiest." That honor belongs to the Paige VanZant vs. Kailin Curran weigh-in in November 2014. VanZant didn’t want to play into the fact everyone recognized they were the two hotties of the UFC, but Curran didn’t mind working it saying it made sense for the two “hot chicks” to fight. Well, two hot chicks certainly showed up to the weigh-in, with VanZant wearing a silver bikini and Curran sporting a pink-and-white number. To say that these were skimpy bikinis is an understatement and much credit is deserved by the two gladiators: they put the ring-card girls standing around in the background to shame in the beauty department.
When you’re a mixed martial arts fighter with little hope of catching on with one of the big companies like UFC or Bellator, you do what you have to do to get attention. In the case of Andrew Yates, who was trying to get some attention for a fight he had with Andrew Tenneson on the undercard of a Legacy Fighting Alliance Undercard, he talked about the one person he knew would get him headlines: his ex-girlfriend, Paige VanZant. And it sounds like they didn’t part on the best terms. Yates admits to being jealous of the attention his former flame gets, claiming she doesn’t have the skill or the passion to make it as a serious fighter and is coasting on her looks. He said, “I know her story and how she makes herself out to be, so it’s frustrating to see what she’s accomplished. MMA is not her dream. She wants to be an actor.” We’re happy to report that Yates lost via submission in the first round to Tenneson.
Is it possible that Paige VanZant could be the next Brock Lesnar? VanZant’s name has been rumored to be connected with the WWE off-and-on for a couple of years now. She’s said in interviews that she’s a big fan of WWE and loved watching The Rock growing up (which seems like a safe thing a non-fan would say, so we have our doubts about her true fandom). There were a lot of rumors she was booked to appear at SummerSlam in Brooklyn in August 2016, but pulled out shortly before the show, although she neither confirmed nor denied those reports. Ronda Rousey has already been connected with WWE. Could you imagine if they had a group of female MMA stars “invade” the WWE and claim that they were the real muscle? That would be amazing! And VanZant certainly fits the WWE mold of beautiful, charismatic, and athletic.
At 23 years old, Paige could go many more years in the UFC Octagon if she so chooses, but she’s making wise decisions spreading herself around, and we were psyched when she went on our favorite cooking show, Food Network’s “Chopped.” She was featured in a special celebrity episode entitled “Star Power: Culinary Muscle.” Paige was able to take down Gold Medal Olympic figure skater Dorothy Hamill (who won her medal 18 years before Paige was even born) but was knocked out before Olympic Gold Medal Fencer Mariel Zagunis and former NFL player Lamarr Woodley made it to the final round. What does this have to do with the picture you’re looking at? Very little, but there are just so many times you can say, “This woman is the hottest person to ever step into an MMA ring.”
We don’t know what’s wrong with the young people in Paige VanZant’s hometown of Dayton, Oregon, but where we come from, the girls who were smart, athletic and good-looking, like Paige, were considered to be the kind of girl you wanted as your friend or girlfriend. It wasn’t like that in Paige’s case, though, and she's said in many interviews that she was bullied to the point that she graduated high school and started college at 16 years old to escape her classmates’ taunting. She was what you’d call a bit of a tomboy, enjoying dirt bikes and the outdoors, especially fishing. That taunting spurred her to get into martial arts to learn to defend herself, which led to her MMA career. In a weird way, those bullies ended up creating an international star. They couldn’t have planned it worse if they tried. Score one for Paige.
This picture shows just how far Paige VanZant has come in her career. This photo is from her second fight, a regional battle for Premier Fight Series against Amber Stautzenberger in September 2012. Instead of international media attending a pre-fight weigh-in that's broadcast live on sports channels, these two ladies posed in front of a vinyl banner that needed another zip-tie to prevent it from drooping. Paige scored a unanimous-decision win in three rounds. It wasn’t until her third victory (which came after a unanimous decision loss to Tecia Torres) that she claimed a knockout. Ironically, Paige scored her first KO with a rear-naked choke, which is the same move that caused her to submit in the only other losses of her career. Michelle Waterson closed out Paige’s 2016 with a loss for the beauty making her 1-1 for the year.
Do you ever watch Dancing With the Stars and notice it’s always the gymnasts, ice skaters, or other athletes who have grace who seem to go the furthest? It probably surprised a lot of people when Paige was selected to be on the show in early 2016, but she really shocked them when she made it all the way to the final episode of the 22nd season with her partner, Mark Ballas. They ended up losing to male model Nyle DiMarco and dancer Peta Murgatroyd. It’s important to note in their three dances on the final episode, Paige scored a perfect 30, another perfect 30 and a 29... and she lost! However, our being completely impressed with her run on the show disappeared when we learned she had grown up with parents who owned a dance studio, and she studied multiple disciplines for 13 years.
Yes, this is not for everybody, but right now, there’s a guy somewhere (probably quite a few... and we’re guessing a few girls, too) who are saying, “Finally, it’s about time you showed the true beauty of a female warrior after a mighty conquest." Rose Namajunas bloodied Paige VanZant, winning a one-sided affair that went to the fifth round before Paige tapped out to a rear-naked choke in December 2015. The fight was shown on UFC Fight Night 80 in the main event, which was a big deal for a non-Ronda Rousey fight at the time. For those wondering, it was a nasty elbow to the side of the right cheek that caused the bloodbath. The loss snapped a four-match winning streak for Paige and was her first loss in a UFC-sanctioned bout.
Paige VanZant was born Paige Michelle Sletten. So why the name change? Well, she’s never gone on record telling anybody exactly why, but conventional wisdom says it has to do with the fact that her brother was convicted of a sex crime involving a child, and she wanted to disassociate herself from the name. Steven Sletten, who is a few years older than his sister, was arrested in April 2012 when a young boy told police he had been sexually assaulted by Sletten. Police found child pornography on Sletten’s computer and charged him with four counts of sodomy, two counts of sexual abuse, and first-degree online sexual corruption of a minor. He took a deal, pleading guilty to attempted sodomy and attempted sexual abuse, and was sentenced to 30 months in prison and five years of probation. The only thing Paige has said about her brother was that he taught her to box in their neighborhood and that was what got her interested in fighting.
There are people who were just born to be different from us, born to be stars. Paige VanZant is one of those people. She's incredibly smart, having graduated high school and entering college at the age of 16. She studied dance for 13 and is clearly a world-class fighter. She’s amazingly gorgeous and obviously finds time for modeling. Yet there’s still that indescribable “it” factor that you have to be born with to make it to the top, and Paige clearly has it. Look at this picture. She’s just getting out of a car, but she’s doing it in a way that screams superstar. Maybe it’s the leather or the sunglasses, but we hate to boil it down to something that simple. When you see Paige on a television show or even in a still photo like this, you can tell she’s going to be on our radar for many years to come.
If you’re going to be young, hot, and in the public eye these days, you’ve got to know how to work your social media, and Paige VanZant may not have a Ph.D. from an Ivy League school, but she could be teaching a graduate course on putting yourself out there. After all, she turned the completely innocent flashing of a sports bra in a self-made commercial for Reebok on Instagram into a huge talking point and gained so much more attention than if she had she just worn the sports bra, to begin with. VanZant knows that she, and not her her MMA career, is the real brand in play. Following the publicity she got, her number of followers jumped to 1.4 million. There are 10 states with fewer people. Of course, she still has a way to go before she catches up with Ronda Rousey, who has 9.6 million followers. For the record, there are only 10 states with more people than that.
Most UFC fighters and ring girls relocate to either Los Angeles or Las Vegas, and Paige VanZant was no different. Her longtime training club, Alpha Male, was headquartered in Sacramento, California, and she also trained in Reno, Nevada. But in early 2017, just before deciding to make selfie Reebok ads that some found too sexy, Paige moved back to her home state of Oregon so she could be closer to family and to train with longtime friend, Chael Sonnen. She has said she’s going to focus more on her jiu-jitsu, feeling that if she can raise her level another degree, she won’t be as susceptible to the rear-naked choke, which has been the cause of her two losses in the UFC octagon. She has said in interviews that she feels like spending time in camp with Sonnen is raising her game, but we’ll have to wait until her next fight to see.
Sources: mmafighting.com, mmajunkie.com, wikipedia.org, mmamania.com