Whilst the main focus of the MMA/UFC world is currently on UFC 252 this Saturday, there’s been quite a bit of news in the recent days surrounding fighters being released and fighters signing new deals elsewhere, so I thought I’d give you all a quick roundup of each bit of news.
Paige Van Zant Signs with Bare Knuckle Fighting
In one of the more surprising breaking news this week, it was announced that Paige Van Zant had signed a multi-fight, multi-million-dollar deal with Bare Knuckle Fighting. Van Zant left the UFC pretty recently after her contract had ran out and she lost her last fight against Amanda Ribas and many expected her to sign with Bellator, given her husband Austin Vanderford currently competes there.
However, it was fairly new promotion Bare Knuckle Fighting that got Van Zant’s signature and it was a decision that took many by surprise. For Van Zant however, it was a clear decision as she wants to prove to everyone in the fight game that she isn’t just a pretty face and that she doesn’t care more about her appearance than she does with her MMA career.
Van Zant went 5-4 in the UFC during her time with the company and even though she wasn’t the most skilled or successful woman on the roster, the UFC marketed her highly given her character and personality. Many disagreed with the decision that the UFC made and that’s what Van Zant is hinting at when she stated she needs to prove she’s not just a pretty face.
Van Zant is aiming to make her debut for the promotion around November of this year and is looking forward to spearheading a whole new women’s division. She hasn’t ruled out a return to MMA in the future, but for now, her sole focus is boxing in her new promotion.
UFC Release Former Title Contender Bethe Correia and Veteran Lightweight Evan Dunham
Mutiple reports broke this week of the UFC releasing more talent from their roster, this time the people who lost their roster spot was former womens title contender Bethe Correia and veteran lightweight fighter Evan Dunham.
Bethe Correia made her debut in the UFC back in 2013 and has been a well known name in the UFC womens division for quite some time. She fought for the title back at UFC 190 in 2015 against Ronda Rousey, a fight she lost within the first 40 seconds. That was the start of the downfall for Bethe as after going 3-0 at the start of her UFC career she then went 2-5-1 in her last 8 bouts. Her most recent fight was back in July of this year when she lost to Pannie Kianzad via decision, a fight where she mistook the 10 second bell for the round ending bell.
Evan Dunham made his debut for the UFC back at UFC 95 in 2009 against Per Eklund. After going on a 4-0 run at the start of his time with the company, Dunham struggled to find some consistency and found himself slipping down the pack to guys like Rafael Dos Anjos, Edson Barboza and Donald Cerrone. He did pick himself back up during 2015 and 2016 with a 4-fight win streak but he’s been finished in his last three fights, by knockout to both Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Francisco Trinaldo before losing his most recent bout against Herbet Burns back at UFC 250 in June of this year.
UFC Heavyweight Contender Tai Tuivasa Claims He’s Been Cut
In some quite surprising news, UFC heavyweight contender and promising prospect Tai Tuivasa has claimed he’s been cut by the UFC after he replied to a fans comment on his Instagram. A fan asked him if the UFC had cut him and Tai responded with yeah and a sad face emoji.
Tai made his UFC debut back in 2017 with a fantastic flying knee knockout of Rashad Coulter and went on to win his next two fights against Cyril Asker and Andrei Arlovski. The Arlovski fight showed UFC fans that Tai could go the distance and grind out wins but from there on he lost his next three bouts against Junior Dos Santos, Blagoy Ivanov and most recently a submission loss against Sergey Spivak back in October 2019.
Tai seemed to be a very marketable fighter for the UFC as he possessed huge KO power, a lot of charisma and has even done some shoey’s in his past for fans. Someone on Twitter a few days ago asked Tai’s manager, Zen Ginnen, to confirm the news that Tai has been cut and his response was “First I’ve heard, lol”. Tai has been known to be a joker before, so he could be up to his old antics again here but who knows if he’s been cut or not, hopefully he hasn’t though!
Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports