Paige VanZant is tough…but man, she is not ready for the big time.
That’s what it look like, at least, after taking a long, sustained, brutal beating from TUF20 finalist Rose Namajunas. The fight was a gory, ugly, arm-snapping affair that saw VanZant mount almost no offense.
The striking difference between the two was clear right from the start. Namajunas repeatedly stung VanZant with punches before taking her down. Namajunas started throwing some heavy elbows from top position and while she didn’t hold it for long, VanZant was bloodied up in a big way.
That was the beginning of the end. While VanZant was aggressive early, she was clearly fighting without the ferocity of Namajunas. Namajunas continued pressing the action, landing punches before getting another takedown and almost choking VanZant out. VanZant would survive the round, but things didn’t get any better from there.
The second, third and fourth were basically the same. Namajunas moved forward, popping VanZant with her hands. VanZant tried to work her grappling but Rose was just too smart and too strong. As the fight went on, VanZant started fighting stupider, going for silly head-and-arm throws and spinning backfists. Namajunas, though, started getting more and more on point with her submissions, twice popping Paige’s elbow out of place.
In the fifth, Rose continued working her grappling before working for a rear-naked choke. This time, Paige was forced to tap at 2:25 of Round 5.
VanZant is one of the fighters the UFC has given the red carpet treatment to. VanZant was left out of season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter, but was put right into the UFC as a result. When she first beat Kailin Curran in an impressively vicious fashion, though, she was instantly pegged by the UFC and Reebok as somebody that could be a big star due to her blonde hair and cute face.
Namajunas, however, was the biggest star exiting The Ultimate Fighter, with her trio of big submission wins over Alex Chambers, Joanne Calderwood and Randa Markos. While she would lose to Carla Esparza in her fight for the UFC title, she remained one of the scariest fighters in the division.
VanZant deserves credit for her insane toughness, as she refused to tap to a deep rear-naked choke, and twice had her elbow popped out of place on armbar attempts, but her hype train is officially off the tracks. Namajunas might be heading towards a title shot now, but it’s probably a trip to the back of the line for VanZant.