If WWE ends up featuring a UFC fighter as part of the deal which allowed Brock Lesnar to return to the Octagon, it won’t be Paige VanZant. At least not at August’s SummerSlam pay-per-view (PPV) in Brooklyn.
When the 22 year old strawweight’s manager and WWE confirmed there were talks to bring VanZant in for an appearance or angle, things looked promising. But she’s now accepted a fight against Be Rawlings for UFC on Fox 21, happening on August 27 in Vancouver, and will pass on any other sports entertainment work in order to prepare for that.
The Dancing With the Stars finalist realised she needed to get back to her roots as a fighter. “I feel like I just missed violence,” she said in an appearance on SportsCenter (transcription via MMAJunkie).
It’s nothing personal against WWE either, as she has also backed away from a role in the movie project Kickboxer: Retaliation to focus on training. VanZant isn’t closing the door on other opportunities, but it does sound like she wants to make sure she’s set as a serious mixed martial artist before she tries to establish herself as a pop culture celebrity:
Fighting definitely comes first. I’ve recently declined to be in the “Kickboxer” movie because I want to be 100 percent for this fight and train 100 percent and filming that movie was kind of going to get in the way. We couldn’t get a date set that worked with my fight schedule. Right now I’m 100 percent fight-focused and I would love to participate in anything the WWE has to offer when the timing’s right as long as it works with my fight schedule. I love WWE and if they ever reached out to me again I would love to work with them but right now I’m focused on Bec Rawlings.
So, there’s still interest, but not while she’s trying to bounce back from her first loss in the Octagon (her December 2015 defeat at the hands of Rose Namajunas).