UFC Fighter Paige VanZant Wants to Return to 'Dancing With the Stars'

UFC Fighter Paige VanZant wants another shot at the gold.

The flyweight professional fighter spoke with the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday to promote her new book, Rise: Surviving the Fight of My Live. Late in the interview she was asked about her time on Dancing With the Stars, where she famously made it to the final round with pro Mark Ballas in 2016 before falling to Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd. VanZant said she'd love another opportunity to win the competition.

"I loved every second of it and I would love to be a part of Dancing With the Stars in the future again if that opportunity ever came up. It was definitely a positive experience for me."

VanZant admitted in her book that she was gang-raped at a high school party when she was just 14 years old. She said in the interview that she felt like she needed to get the story out.

"I [knew] this was going to be something that people talked about," VanZant said. "I more so just wanted it to be something where I felt I had gotten my story out and that it was liberating for me, and however the world takes it is up to them."

She said she hopes the book inspires other victims to follow in her footsteps and come forward.

"So I hope that the book definitely reminds girls we need to be there for each other and stand up for each other," she said. "That it teaches them empathy to [other] children and youth, that they don't realize how somebody could be struggling and what somebody is going through and what war and battle they're facing.

"They might say that one thing that pushes them over the edge," she continued. "I think people just need to learn how to be there for each other."

VanZant competed in her first professional mixed martial arts fight in June 2012. She made her UFC debut two years later, defeating Kailin Curran via TKO in November 2014. She quickly became one of the company's rising stars with three straight wins but lost a bloody encounter to now-UFC Strawweight Champion Rose Namajunas via submission in December 2015 and has gone 1-2 in her last three bouts.


Along with Dancing With the Stars, VanZant has appeared on shows like Chopped and has been rumored to be in talks with WWE a la former UFC Champion Ronda Rousey.

Dancing With the Stars: Athletes premieres as the latest season of the show beginning on April 30 on ABC.