Paige VanZant's devastating loss at the hands of Rose Namajunas was followed by an extended layoff highlighted by a run on Dancing with the Stars last spring. Her defeat to Michelle Waterson in December? Same idea.
According to a post on the official Food Network blog (h/t Sherdog.com), VanZant will be competing in a celebrity-themed tournament hosted by the cooking show Chopped. The series—which tasks chefs with making a three-course meal themed around random ingredients—will see VanZant start on an episode comprised of past and present athletes including former Pittsburgh Steeler LaMarr Woodley, four-time fencing Olympic medalist Mariel Zagunis and famed figure skater Dorothy Hamill. The episode airs Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET.
The winner will then go on to grand finale, where they will face the victors of three other episodes (comprised of "famous stars of film and TV," "funny actors" and "web stars") with a $50,000 donation to the champion's choice of charity as the top prize.
While VanZant once again going from the Octagon to a reality show will inevitably lead to questions about her commitment to the MMA game, this is an important get for the 22-year-old. Since her UFC debut in 2014, VanZant has been a favorite of the promotion and has been heavily used in an ambassador role, appearing in a number of high-profile media spots.
Paige VanZant @PaigeVanzantUFC
💕@FoodNetwork @CancerTrainOrg #chopped https://t.co/VIQkiKySJD2017-3-28 23:08:36
Unfortunately, 12 Gauge's success in front of a camera hasn't been replicated in the cage to this point. A flashy knockout over Bec Rawlings last August had UFC decision-makers committed to crowning her as an elite-level fighter, and her coronation was supposed to come with a win over Waterson. Instead, VanZant was largely exposed as Waterson scored a first-round submission with very little difficulty.
That loss had many wondering if the UFC's confidence in VanZant would be shaken or if Hollywood would lose interest. Her gig on Chopped, however, suggests that her career footing remains secure.
Fans of her work in the cage need not worry about this latest run on television, however. Despite her gig on Dancing with the Stars being a months-long endeavor, she will appear in just one or two episodes of Chopped. While there is no word on her next fight, there is nothing keeping her from returning to action later this spring or summer.