Paige VanZant is good at being undaunted.
During her December fight with Rose Namajunas, the UFC's well-marketed strawweight never gave up despite a tremendous beating that draped her face in sheets of blood.
If the late submission loss presented the 21-year-old with a road map to improvement, she's choosing to take those lessons with a heaping side of optimism, at least if recent public comments are any indication. VanZant recently told broadcaster Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour (h/t Marc Raimondi of MMAFighting.com):
I thought I embarrassed myself out there and I put on an embarrassing performance. But then afterward I had all these positive articles. I was reading all these positive things after the fight. It felt really good, especially after taking a loss not to take a ton of criticism for it. It was really neat that I still had a lot of fans come forward and my stock grew even after a loss.
Now that's how you look on the bright side.
Presumably, the accolades came from VanZant's toughness and refusal to quit, as opposed to her actual performance. She was unable to mount a great deal of offense or defense for the duration of the fight and finally tapped out to a rear-naked choke at two minutes, 25 seconds of the fifth and final round. The bout served as the main event of the December 10 UFC Fight Night 80 event in Las Vegas.
Still, VanZant clearly has a large number of fans, as evidenced by her massive social media followings:
Good morning 😊 https://t.co/T7cP3qvUqw— Paige VanZant (@PaigeVanzantUFC) January 21, 2016
Hahaha yes!! This needs to happen. I wanna be a Barbie! https://t.co/oaAIwwlWmC— Paige VanZant (@PaigeVanzantUFC) January 13, 2016
According to numbers from official UFC stat keeper FightMetric, Namajunas landed more significant strikes (57) than VanZant attempted (50). VanZant was unable to convert either of her two takedown attempts, while Namajunas connected on eight of 10.
That sort of domination helps explain why VanZant, according to her own admission, was "cleaning blood out of [her] ears for three weeks after the fight."
"I have a no-give-up attitude," VanZant said on Helwani's show, per Raimondi. "It didn't surprise me in that sense, but it was definitely a good test."
It was the second professional MMA loss for VanZant (6-2). Given her California-blonde look, wholesome persona and, now, her steely toughness, she will surely get another shot soon in the UFC. Nothing has been announced yet, but her legions of fans, new and old, will surely be excited when the announcement comes down.