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UFC strawweight fighter Paige “12 Gauge” VanZant will be taking on Australian MMA fighter Rebecca “Bec” Rawlings this Saturday for the Fox 21 fight card in Vancouver, British Colombia. VanZant hasn’t been in the Octagon since last December, after losing to Rose Namajunas. The strawweight fighter kept her cardio and endurance up during her Dancing with the Stars debut this spring, where she was the runner-up in ABC’s dancing competition.
Rawlings is on a two-match winning streak and looking for a third in Saturday’s fight. As of now, the 27-year-old mom-of-two’s record is 7-4 and she’s one of the larger strawweight fighters. VanZant’s record is 6-2 and she’s gunning for a 7-2 against the Aussie. (For more background on this strawweight fight, watch the UFC’s “Road to the Octagon: VanZant vs Rawlings” YouTube video.)
Here, 22-year-old VanZant chatted with us about training and returning to the Octagon:
Muscle & Fitness Hers: What was training camp like this summer?
Paige VanZant: In training camp I was working on a little bit of everything, just getting back into a regular workout routine. I’ve been working out a lot. My focus is to be well-rounded and working on every area. I’ve been training at the gym with the same great teammates, Team Alpha Male.
It’s your first fight in eight months. How are you feeling?
PVZ: I feel good and I don’t feel like it’s been too long of a layoff for me. I’ve had longer breaks before. I’m ready to get back in there and bring some fans over from Dancing with the Stars.
Did you train differently to prep for this card with Bec Rawlings?
PVZ: You do train a little differently for each opponent. You can’t predict what they’re going to do or get yourself thinking they’ll do something specific in the fight because you might get thrown off if that doesn’t happen. You have to train to become the best fighter you can be. Rawlings has more of a boxing style. She’s very aggressive and I am very aggressive so it’s going to be a great fight.
What’s your diet been like getting ready for this fight?
PVZ: For the last few weeks I’ve been dieting and eating the right foods. I know how to cut weight and enjoy making my own weight-cutting meals. I cook my meals, usually a lot of grilled chicken and veggies, and my favorite trick is to add a lot of spices to make my food taste even better—but I stay away from the salt while cutting.
What did you do with any time off this summer?
PVZ: I went standup paddleboarding with my dad a few times but mostly I’ve been in full fight camp. When this is over, I’m going to visit my Grandpa who’s based on the Oregon Coast. He’ll watch me fight but he was a much bigger fan of watching me on Dancing with the Stars. My dad will come out to watch me fight this weekend.
Check out our feature on Paige VanZant on page 88 of Muscle & Fitness Hers’ September/October issue, on newsstands now!