Paige VanZant entered Thursday’s UFC Fight Night 80 main event against Rose Namajunas with tons of hype behind her, and walked away with one of the more one-sided, humbling defeats one could have imagined.
The 21-year-old had no excuses afterward, admitting at the post-fight press conference that there are some areas in which she’s simply still clearly lacking.
“I definitely have the heart, I have the aggression. I don’t have the technique yet and I think everyone has known that,” VanZant admitted (transcribed by MMAFighting.com). “I got outclassed in every way. So just get back with my team and game plan and work on my technique.
“I just wasn’t prepared for that fight… There was no pressure. I’m just new, ya know? I’ve got a lot to learn. Just working with my team. I’m trying not to cry, guys.”
The fifth round submission loss was just VanZant’s second in an eight fight career, snapping a four-fight winning streak that had included her first three fights in the Octagon.
Penick’s Analysis: VanZant’s got a lot of intangibles that have worked in her favor to date, but she took a significant step up in competition for this fight and it showed. Namajunas was simply better technically in every aspect of the fight, and she was able to take advantage of the deficiencies in VanZant’s game. It’s a significant learning experience for VanZant, and a sign that she still has a very long way to go in order to become a top end competitor. It’s good that she recognizes as much, as she’ll be more likely to actually make those improvements by admitting her faults to begin with. She’s still got the look and personality to garner promotional backing from the UFC, and if she gets on another roll she’ll get her opportunities. For now, it’s back to the drawing board to figure out what can be improved upon in the near future before she gets back in the cage.
[Photo (c) Gary A Vasquez via USA Today Sports]