UFC’s Paige VanZant has never been one to shy away from the camera. It was a year ago she made a big splash in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. For the last three months, the UFC fighter, like the rest of the world, has tried to find different ways to entertain herself and her husband during the lockdown while also staying fit.
During the hiatus, VanZant has taken her photogenic talent to the next level by posting completely naked but strategically-positioned photographs on Instagram with her husband and fellow MMA fighter Austin Vanderford. Not surprisingly, her 2.5 million followers have responded enthusiastically.
Paige VanZant’s MMA career
Paige VanZant made her professional debut in 2012. After winning three of her first four fights, VanZant got the call to join the UFC. The UFC initially scheduled her debut in March 2014 on the UFC’s “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, but because there was alcohol in the house and VanZant was only 20 at the time, her first UFC fight had to wait.
She debuted on UFC Fight Night in November 2014, where she won by TKO on punches and earned Fight of the Night honors. VanZant won her next two fights before suffering her first UFC defeat to Rose Namajunas in December 2015.
That loss to Namajunas was a portend of things to come. Since that fight, VanZant has struggled in the octagon and with a broken arm that has required multiple surgeries to repair. As she heads into her Fight Island bout against Amanda Ribas at UFC 251, VanZant holds an 8-4 record, including her most recent fight, a second-round submission victory by armbar over Rachael Ostovich.
VanZant appears in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue
While Paige VanZant has become well-known for her work in the octagon, the 26-year-old has also established herself as someone who is comfortable in front of the camera. Last year VanZant showed just how comfortable when she appeared in the popular Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
VanZant’s appearance in the sports magazine was just the second female UFC fighter to appear in the special issue after the legendary Ronda Rousey. VanZant, however, hasn’t always been interested in posing for photos. Growing up she was tomboy who enjoyed riding dirt bikes and fishing. She dreamed of one day being a professional dancer, firefighter, or model. The Sports Illustrated photoshoot was a dream come true.
“I got a small taste of modeling as a child by being in some ads for a few clothing companies. I never got a real feel for it until later on in my career,” she told the magazine. “Being in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is the pinnacle of my modeling career thus far. I would love to continue modeling and show off the girly side of me that people don’t get to see when I am training for fights.”
Paige VanZant shares numerous nude photos on Instagram
Since March, Paige VanZant has revealed her girly side and much more on Instagram. While she’s never been modest about posting photos in various states of undress on the social media platform, VanZant and her husband, Austin Vanderford, a middleweight fighter with a 9-0 record in Bellator, have gotten particularly creative as of late.
VanZant has shared numerous photos featuring her and Vanderford completely naked, with their private parts carefully hidden behind various objects. VanZant told MMA Fighting it all happened by accident after she took a picture of her husband, and when she looked at it closely, he appeared to be naked but was, in fact, wearing a small pair of shorts.
“And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have the best idea ever,’ and so we just kind of staged it where I was on the medicine ball, and he had our double-edged bag covering his butt. Then it just kind of sparked from there because people liked them so much.”
Since that first photo, the pair has staged numerous shots using various props for coverage, including an umbrella, a pair of drinking glasses, and a book. VanZant said the photos while provocative, reveal something more important—her love for her husband.
“I just think I want to spread the idea, we’ve been married for over a year and a half, and just to love your significant other, and have fun with them, and [show] how important it is to just make the most of the relationships that you have. We’re really just having a really good time and trying to spread love. We’re married, so I’m not embarrassed, I’m not shy about the way we live our life at all.”
VanZant’s style outside of the ring and her willingness to put herself out there might irritate others, including some of her fellow UFC competitors. In the end, she knows that doesn’t matter because when her MMA career is over, she’ll have her husband there standing by her side—most likely naked.