A photogenic personality paired with an aggressive crowd-pleasing style has made Paige VanZant one of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s most marketable young stars and an easy target for too-much-too-soon critics.
VanZant will put a four-fight winning streak on the line opposite Rose Namajunas in the UFC Fight Night “Namajunas vs. VanZant” main event on Thursday at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Their clash carries with it significant implications inside the women’s strawweight division, which continues to take shape behind unbeaten champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
Operating out of the Team Alpha Male camp in Sacramento, Calif., VanZant has compiled a perfect 3-0 record since arriving in the UFC a little more than a year ago. The 21-year-old last fought at UFC 191 on Sept. 5, when she followed back-to-back victories over Kailin Curran and Felice Herrig with a third-round armbar submission on Alex Chambers.
A replacement for the injured Joanne Calderwood, Namajunas was a finalist on Season 20 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series. The 23-year-old Grudge Training Center snapped a two-fight losing streak at UFC 192 in October, as she tapped Angela Hill with a standing rear-naked choke at the Toyota Center in Houston.
With the Namajunas-VanZant headliner as the centerpiece, here are 10 facts surrounding UFC Fight Night 80:
FACT 1: In her first three UFC appearances, VanZant has outgunned her opposition 201-86 in significant strikes and a staggering 531-172 in total strikes, per FightMetric.
FACT 2: Namajunas burst on the scene in April 2013, when, as a 20-year-old, she executed a 12-second flying armbar submission on Kathina Catron under the Invicta Fighting Championships banner.
FACT 3: No fighter in UFC history has attempted more submissions than Jim Miller (34). Chris Lytle ranks second on the all-time list with 31.
FACT 4: Between April 28, 2011 and Feb. 23, 2013, Michael Chiesa finished five consecutive opponents with rear-naked chokes: Anton Kuivanen, Al Iaquinta, Darrell Fenner, Matt Coble and Evian Rodriguez.
FACT 5: Serra-Longo Fight Team export Aljamain Sterling has held titles in the Ring of Combat and Cage Fury Fighting Championships promotions.
FACT 6: When Sage Northcutt was born on March 1, 1996, the top song on the Billboard Hot 100 list was “One Sweet Day,” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, and the top film at the domestic box office was “Up Close and Personal.”
FACT 7: The seven men who have defeated former King of the Cage champion Tim Means -- Matt Brown, Neil Magny, Danny Castillo, Jorge Masvidal, Jaime Jara, Spencer Fisher and Luke Caudillo -- have 162 victories between them.
FACT 8: Jackson-Wink MMA representative Omari Akhmedov sports 12 first-round finishes among his 15 professional wins, including 20-, 53-, 62- and 82-second stoppages.
FACT 9: American Top Team’s Nathan Coy was an NCAA All-American wrestler at Oregon State University, where his 85 career victories still rank 35th on the school’s all-time list.
FACT 10: A four-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, Sergio Moraes has delivered seven of his nine pro MMA wins via submission: three by rear-naked choke, three by triangle choke and one by kimura.