Dana White: Paige VanZant should ‘definitely test free agency’ after pay talk, getting ‘smoked’ at UFC 251

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Personal feelings aside, UFC President Dana White doesn’t seem interested in keeping Paige VanZant around.

After the flyweight star was quickly submitted at UFC 251, White compared her to heavyweight Curtis Blaydes for not matching her financial demands with a good performance.

“I like Paige,” White told reporters after UFC 251. “It’s like Blaydes, when Blaydes fought last. When you talk all that stuff, ‘I’m not being paid enough,’ and fighting inconsistently, one time in the last year, injuries, and then got smoked in the first round of the fight, she should definitely test free agency.”

VanZant was submitted in the first round by Amanda Ribas in the opening pay-per-view bout of Saturday’s fight card at Yas Island. It was her first fight in 18 months after re-injuring her arm in training, which forced her to postpone two different bookings, one against Ribas.

The UFC rescheduled the fight for the promotion’s Fight Island debut. VanZant was a +600 underdog against Ribas, who’s won four straight in the octagon. Her return came after she said she would shop for a better contract after completing her current contract with the UFC.

Recently, VanZant vented about her pay in an interview with MMA Fighting, saying she needed more money to justify the sacrifices made and injuries she’s battled over the past several years. She previously said she made more money as an influencer on social media than as a pro fighter.

A broken arm surgically repaired with a metal rod and screws was the source of VanZant’s woes, with her limb re-breaking on several occasions. She noted the UFC’s insurance coverage ran out one year after the 2018 injury, necessitating a direct investment.

In the fight against Ribas, VanZant tapped after her oft-injured arm was caught in an armbar. She later issued a statement congratulating the Brazilian standout and welcoming the next step in her career.

A crossover star, VanZant won rave reviews for her turn on “Dancing with the Stars,” earning a second-place finish on the popular show’s 22nd season. She also appeared on the cooking show “Chopped” and released a memoir.

In the octagon, VanZant’s octagon record stands at 5-4. She has been a regular fixture on main cards at UFC events.