After nearly a year away from the Octagon, Paige VanZant found herself victorious in her comeback bout against Rachael Ostovich via second-round submission as part of the main card of UFC on ESPN+ 1 in Brooklyn, New York, on Saturday.
Ostovich showed early that she wasn't just brought in to revive PVZ's career. She took the early lead in the bout, reversing a trip throw by VanZant and answering with a trip of her own set up by a nice right hand. The Hawaiian wasn't easily reversed, though. She spent much of the round in top position and warded off a leg lock.
The second round started with a little deja vu. Ostovich once again landed a flush right hand that led to a takedown. However, VanZant had an answer. She took the Hawaiian's back and utilized the position to land ground-and-pound and finish the fight off with an unusual armbar for the win.
The win couldn't have come at a more desperate time for 12 Gauge. The organization has heavily featured and promoted the 24-year-old, but she has struggled to live up to the hype in the cage consistently. This is a win that puts her back on track after losing three of her last four.
VanZant's prolonged absence from the cage came from a difficult recovery from a broken arm. The usually routine injury took two surgeries to recover from, and that took an emotional toll in her time out of the spotlight.
"I went through a severe depression and my husband is the person who got me through the whole thing," VanZant said of the recovery, per Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports. "The first surgery, I had such a positive outlook, and I really believed I'd heal up quickly and get right back to it. I was like, 'Cool, people break their arms and have surgery all the time, and they're better than ever.' But when it didn't heal, there was absolutely no explanation why. I had no idea what was going on. And so when I was going through the process of the second surgery, I was like, 'Well, what is different now that will make it heal this time?' It was such a stressful process and I was so mad that a silly bone break could cause so many issues."
Now that the injury has healed and she has a win over Ostovich to get her back in the organization's good graces, her stock is higher than it's been in quite some time.
Now the intrigue will come from whether she'll continue to get time to rebuild her game and develop into a contender or if she'll be rushed against elite competition again.