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Paige VanZant: Reebok deal enabled me to pay rent, train with Team Alpha Male

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LAS VEGAS – Paige VanZant credits her first walk to the octagon as a turning point in her life. She also credits a controversial sponsorship with Reebok as the break that took her career to the next level.

“Because of the Reebok deal, I was actually able to afford rent for my apartment to be able to train in Sacramento (Calif.) with Team Alpha Male,” VanZant said today during an appearance at the “Women of the UFC” panel at Park Theater in Las Vegas.

VanZant (7-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) said she’s got a fight announcement in the works and urged fans to stay tuned. She currently trains at Gracie Barra Portland alongside three-time UFC title challenger and Bellator star Chael Sonnen, who invited her to join the team when she decided to move back to her native Pacific Northwest.

The 23-year-old strawweight’s entrance into the UFC met its fair share of detractors, who took umbrage to an exclusive deal she signed with Reebok shortly after the apparel giant signed a long-term deal with the UFC.

Although VanZant’s 3-1 record raised eyebrows when she signed with the UFC, she took to training with Team Alpha Male, known as one of MMA’s strongest talent factories. And she managed to win three straight.

Outside the cage, VanZant also proved her crossover potential with an appearance on the 22nd season of “Dancing with the Stars,” where her dance background led to a second-place finish.

But after a strong start in the octagon, VanZant’s UFC career stalled with a lopsided loss to Rose Namajunas. After rebounding with a highlight-reel knockout of Bec Rawlings, she was choked unconscious by Michelle Waterson last December at UFC on FOX 22.

In April, VanZant’s role with Reebok again put her in the crosshairs when she pitched apparel with a suggestive selfie video. Several MMA fighters stepped in with their own parodies. VanZant said she was unaware of the criticism and said the whole video was meant in a joking manner.

Many fighters in the UFC don’t find much funny about the promotion’s deal with Reebok. But for VanZant, the apparel maker is a benefactor that can’t be igorned.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.



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