Rising UFC star Paige VanZant appeared on Ariel Helwani’s ESPN show to chat about her career and admitted to the Canadian host that she was somewhat scared and in awe of reigning world champion Valentina Shevchenko.
Shevchenko spectacularly knocked out Jessica Eye in her most recent title defense at UFC 238, and Helwani asked budding flyweight VanZant her view on who might be able to dethrone the Kyrgyzstani champion.
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Her reply was refreshingly honest, and quite different from what you might expect from a fellow fighter in the same weight class.
«OK, you know what, I’m going to be real honest, she’s terrifying!» she laughed.
«So, no. I plan on being in the UFC and fighting for forever – she’ll probably retire before I fight for the title, to be totally honest.
«I’m only 25, so I want to work my way up.»
VanZant is currently out injured after surgery to repair a broken arm. And while she admitted she wasn’t in a position to offer a challenge to Shevchenko, VanZant also suggested there wasn’t anyone else in the women’s flyweight division with the skillset to defeat the defending champ.
«As far as anyone I see right now to dethrone her – no. There’s nobody. She’s amazing,» she admitted, before going on to pay tribute to Shevchenko’s striking skills and saying she would love to one day possess similar striking capabilities herself.
«Her striking is absolutely next level, she’s so methodical in her striking, and technical. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before,» she said.
«So I’m working on being like her. I want like striking like her. So congrats to the champ. That was an awesome performance.»