She was pegged as the bookmakers’ favorite to win -- but in the end, Paige VanZant finished as the runner-up on the 22nd season of “Dancing with the Stars.”
The 22-year-old UFC strawweight placed second during Tuesday’s season finale of the ABC celebrity dance competition, losing out to model Nyle DiMarco at the end of the night. Meteorologist Ginger Zee finished in third place.
Alongside “DWTS” partner Mark Ballas, VanZant nabbed 59 out of 60 points on the first night of the finale, with a perfect score of 30 for their final jive-salsa fusion routine. However, it was not enough to beat former “America’s Next Top Model” winner DiMarco, who waltzed into first place with dance partner Peta Murgatroyd.
VanZant was supported by Team Alpha Male training partner Chad Mendes, who was in the live studio audience on Tuesday. Contestants eliminated in the weeks leading up to the finale included Boyz II Men singer Wanya Morris, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and “Full House” actress Jodie Sweetin.
VanZant recorded high marks throughout the competition, earning several perfect scores. Aside from being a professional athlete, VanZant had one considerable advantage over many of her competitors: the Oregon native spent much of her childhood studying dance at a studio owned by her parents.
VanZant holds a 6-2 record as a professional and a 3-1 mark inside the Octagon. “12 Gauge” has not competed since December, when she was submitted by Rose Namajunas in the fifth round of their UFC Fight Night main event.
Videos: Paige VanZant on ‘Dancing with the Stars’
• Week 1: First Dances - Foxtrot
• Week 2: Latin Night - Salsa
• Week 3: Most Memorable Year - Paso Doble
• Week 4: Disney Night - Quickstep
• Week 5: America’s Switch-Up - Rumba
• Week 6: Famous Dances Night - Jazz
• Week 7: Icons Night - Jive
• Week 8: Judges’ Team-Up Challenge - Viennese Waltz
• Week 9: Semifinals - Samba, Argentine Tango
• Week 10: Finals, Night 1 - Salsa, Freestyle