During a Sept. 2 interview with ProWMMA Now!, Invicta FC strawweight contender Paige "12 Gauge" VanZant (3-1) said her roots as a ballet dancer and tumbler helped her become a more well-rounded and dangerous MMA fighter.
VanZant, 19, explained that dancing improved her flexibility, as well as her cardio and standup skills.
"12 Gauge" has never been submitted in her four pro fights, and her dance training is to thank for providing her with the flexibility to escape submission attempts from some of the top 115-pounders in the world.
"I think it really, really has. I notice that it improves my cardio as well," VanZant said when asked by show host Gina Begley if gymnastics, dance and tumbling helped her become a better MMA fighter. "Being a dancer, I dance 25 hours a week. That was my passion and then I moved out to Reno and I kind of wanted to switch gears. I think the dance definitely helped. I notice the flexibility is amazing. My jiu-jitsu definitely has benefited, just because my flexibility helps me not get submitted and helps me be able to go into different submissions. And I think even in my standout, it helped me have really good balance, so I think it definitely has helped a lot."
VanZant is coming off a victory over Courtney Himes at BCP- Cage Wars 15, and she's expected to be back in the cage perhaps as early as November for the next Invicta FC card.
Currently, she's balancing a busy schedule between fight training and dancing.
"I do work Monday through Wednesday, I teach dance still. Dance has been a passion of mine since I was three years old, so I do still teach dance," VanZant said of her schedule. "I'm on a dance production company and we perform actually in South Lake Tahoe."
"12 Gauge" teaches several different dance styles, each of which helps with various aspects of her MMA game.
"Growing up I did everything. I did tap, jazz, ballet," she said. "Right now I'm a showgirl for a production company here in Reno that performs at South Lake Tahoe and different venues. I teach tumbling and I teach tap and I teach ballet right now."
VanZant also said in her interview with ProWMMA Now! that she would be open to doing some ring girl work if the opportunity were to present itself.
"I want people to know my name, so however it gets me there," she concluded.