A few years ago, Paige VanZant was one of the most marketable and promising young talents in combat sports. However, she has recently hit a slump in her career, including a two-fight losing streak to begin her stint with Bare Knuckle FC.
Following her latest loss to fellow UFC veteran Rachel Ostovich, the struggles began taking a toll on her mental health.
VanZant recently revealed the dark place she went to after her loss to Ostovich in an episode of her video blog series with husband Austin Vanderford, a rising Bellator MMA star.
“When I walked out of the ring, I didn’t just walk to my locker room, I literally walked all the way outside and I just went and cried in the parking lot by myself,” VanZant said. “I said some things to my husband that are pretty terrible about like my mental state. I told him I didn’t want to live anymore, that this wasn’t for me anymore. Like life wasn’t for me anymore so I was disappointed, It was hard.
“People like me struggle a lot, everybody doe. Mental health is no joke and I need to start taking my mental health more seriously. Losses suck and going through hard times it’s not fun but it does get better and you can get through it and life goes on.”
What also has a negative impact on VanZant’s mental health is her feeling that everyone is rooting against her.
“I’m bummed out, bummed out to say the least,” VanZant said. “Everyone expects me to lose and everyone expects me to fail. I don’t know, I just feel like people have this specific perception of who I am and especially online. It’s crazy how much people can hate on a single person. I just don’t get it.
“I pride myself of being a good person. I think that’s the most important thing for me. I never talk bad about my opponents. I never say a single negative thing about their character. You never know what somebody’s going through. You never know what someone’s on the verge of.”
The good news, however, is that VanZant has a strong support system in her husband and is finding joy in watching him succeed. Vanderford is a perfect 11-0 in his mixed martial arts and is set to face Gegard Mousasi for the middleweight championship.
“It can be hard when Austin and I are married and he keeps winning and I keep losing but honestly him and his success is the only thing that keeps me going,” VanZant said. “Because I do feel like we win together.
“His next fight will be for a title and I know he’s going to win. I just know how good it’s going to feel for him and for me and I’m so happy. I’m so proud of him. His title fight to look forward makes it all worth it and makes me feel a little better.”
A timetable for VanZant’s return to the ring has not been set.