Combat sports siren Paige VanZant has opened up on the pressures of the fight game, saying that she suffered a deep depression after losing her second straight outing in the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship ring last month.
VanZant, 27, was a high profile addition to the upstart bare-knuckle fight league last year, inking a four-year, $1 million deal with the organization twelve months ago. Since then, though, questions have been asked as to the value of BKFC's investment as VanZant has yet to have her hand raised in two bouts with the organization.
The former UFC star was defeated by old rival Rachael Ostovich last month, reversing the result of when the two pin-up fighters met in the UFC's Octagon in January 2019 - a fight which remains VanZant's last victory in any combat sport - and was also soundly defeated by pro boxer Britain Hart in her debut in February.
VanZant drew heavy criticism in the aftermath of the Ostovich fight, immediately leaving the ring when the decision was announced and marching towards the backstage area - but if those watching at home viewed her exit as the petulant actions of a sore loser, that wasn't quite what happened, she says.
"When I walked out of the ring, I didn’t just walk to my locker room, I literally walked all the way outside and I just went and cried in the parking lot by myself," said VanZant in a video blog
"I said some things to my husband that are pretty terrible about like my mental state. I told him I didn’t want to live anymore, that this wasn’t for me anymore. Like life wasn’t for me anymore so I was disappointed, It was hard."
VanZant, who has a significant following on social media and also launched her own OnlyFans-style subscription website this year, acknowledges that with her fame comes the added pressure of having a spotlight being permanently affixed to her - something which can often magnify the disappointment of defeat.
But sometimes she says she feels that her status has led to an army of detractors cheering on her demise.
"I'm bummed out, bummed out to say the least," VanZant said. "Everyone expects me to lose and everyone expects me to fail. I don’t know, I just feel like people have this specific perception of who I am and especially online. It’s crazy how much people can hate on a single person. I just don’t get it.
"I pride myself of being a good person. I think that’s the most important thing for me. I never talk bad about my opponents. I never say a single negative thing about their character. You never know what somebody’s going through. You never know what someone’s on the verge of."
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But despite the pressure, VanZant says that she is evidence of what can happen when someone is forced to persevere through some bad times.
"People like me struggle a lot, everybody does," she said. "Mental health is no joke and I need to start taking my mental health more seriously.
"Losses suck and going through hard times it’s not fun but it does get better and you can get through it and life goes on."