UFC 200 loses Paige VanZant to Dancing with the Stars

UFC fighter Paige VanZant. Photo / Getty Images
UFC fighter Paige VanZant. Photo / Getty Images

UFC 200 has lost another major star, with strawweight fighter Paige VanZant pulling out of the fight night in July.

The 22-year-old - popular for her personality as much as her tenacity in the Octagon - has announced she will join Conor McGregor on the sideline because of her involvement in an American reality TV program.

VanZant is a contestant on Dancing with the Stars - a commitment that requires too much time to allow her to prepare for a fight at the same time, her manager Mike Roberts said.

"After thinking about it, the show is taking up a lot of her time," Roberts told MMAFighting.com.

"She wants to have time to improve and get better, so we decided to postpone her return to about late-August," Roberts said.

VanZant is running hot on the dancing program, recently recording a perfect score with partner Mark Ballas.

Her most recent fight was a submission loss to Rose Namajunas in December, and her initial plan was to finish Dancing with the Stars before heading into camp to prepare for UFC 200.

"Throughout this I'm going to be trying my hardest to win, but I'm also going to be training the entire time. I am still a fighter first," VanZant said back in early March.

"The goal is still UFC 200; I've known for a while that's the one I want to be on. Perfect timing.

"If I were to make it to the finals of this, I'd still have a six-to-eight-week fight camp, which would be great. I'm still training in LA. I'm not missing out on anything. I'm excited to hopefully win on Dancing with the Stars and then go fight on UFC 200."


VanZant's omission is another blow for UFC President Dana White and his promotion, who already lost 27-year-old McGregor and with it, a blockbuster rematch with Nate Diaz, who upset the Irishman at UFC 196.

McGregor was snubbed from UFC 200 when he refused to attend promotional events in Las Vegas with the rest of the fighters, saying it interfered with his training.

At the time he was in Iceland preparing under the watchful eye of coach John Kavanagh.

He then announced his retirement, before an about-face on social media saw him claim he was in fact going to fight in July.

White completely rejected McGregor's assertion he was returning and stuck firm, refusing to make concessions for the UFC's biggest star.

"We haven't talked to Conor or his manager since the press conference. I don't know why he would tweet that," White told TMZ Sports last week.

"All the media keeps asking me that. I feel like the scene in Step Brothers when they ask if they can build the bunk beds. I don't know how many more times I can say the fight is off or how many more press conferences I can have saying the fight is off for people to believe it's off."

McGregor has defined himself as the biggest draw in the UFC and he believes his rematch with Diaz could have broken every record in the book - including those held by Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

McGregor was on Twitter answering fan questions this week when he was asked how UFC 200 will do in his absence.

A bout between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones - fresh from a win over Ovince Saint Preux in his first fight in more than a year - will now headline UFC 200.

- news.com.au

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