Paige VanZant expected to have “smooth transition” to bare-knuckle boxing

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Boxing coach Gabriel de Oliveira anticipates a “smooth transition” for Paige VanZant as she begins the next chapter of her career with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship.

“We’ll have more time to work with Paige, because she will only fight in November or early next year — we don’t have the date set yet – but we’ve already seen how she moves,” the American Top Team coach said in a recent interview with MMA Fighting. “She’s not totally raw. We’ll have to work, add some concepts and change a few concepts she’s carrying over, but I think it’s going to be a smooth transition.”

In August, VanZant announced she had agreed to a four-fight deal with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, worth more than $1 million, a month after her final UFC fight, in which she lost to Amanda Ribas.

“This has been in talks ever since I was a free agent. This is kind of where I felt the most passionate about, and it completely lined up with what I wanted and what they wanted and we were really able to create a happy partnership,” VanZant said during last month’s introductory press conference. “It’s a win-win for both of us.”

De Oliveira, who has trained a number of MMA fighters, also commended VanZant’s thirst “for knowledge.”

“The most important is that she’s willing to do it. One cool thing about her is that we say something and she does it, she wants to learn, she’s thirsty for knowledge,” he said. “Some other athletes we eventually work with, when we say something they go, ‘Oh, no, not that, I don’t want,’ you know? ‘I want my way, this is my way.’ She’s not like that, she understands she has to adapt and make some changes in order to do well in this new sport.”

Though VanZant, 26, is widely trained in the art of viral Instagram posts, she’s also been sharing snippets of her progress, including a recent gym photo with de Oliveira himself.

“Working with the master!!! @deoliveira_coach He’s getting me ready for my first @bareknucklefc fight. Who ever they give me, we will be ready!!” VanZant posted to Instagram last week.

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