PAIGE VANZANT reveals she was left battered and bruised from pro wrestling training – having turned down WWE for rivals AEW.
VanZant last September made her first AEW appearance as the latest star from Dan Lambert's American Top Team MMA gym to do so.
And she officially debuted in a in-ring match in May, which capped off months of preparation.
VanZant had 13 MMA bouts as well as two in the bare-knuckle boxing ring so she is accustomed to hard knocks and trash talk.
But the American was taken by surprise at how challenging a career in pro wrestling would be on the body.
VanZant, 28, told SunSport:“Going into it, I knew I would be good at it.
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"It’s the same thing with me on Dancing With the Stars, I knew I would have the right skill set for it.
“But, I had no idea how physically demanding it is. The training hurt a lot worse than I expected.
“It’s definitely some really hard, dedicated training and by the end of it I was just so ready to just go home and relax, ice my body.
“The training and just getting ready for the first match, it was just extremely hard. Any pro wrestlers out there, they are athletes beyond belief.
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“It is absolutely amazing what they are able to do with their bodies, because after just one match I was sore and aching in pain.
“And then they go and do matches every weekend, so I couldn’t be more honoured to go out there and do what they do.
“I loved the training but it was definitely more intense than I expected.”
After leaving the UFC in 2020, VanZant held talks to crossover to the WWE, who wanted her to be an exclusive signing.
But AEW's freedom to let her continue fighting while wrestling on a part-time basis proved too good to turn down.
I had no idea how physically demanding it is. The training hurt a lot worse than I expected.
VanZant said: “I’m still continuing my MMA/bare-knuckle boxing career.
"So, I wasn’t ready to end that to pursue pro wrestling. AEW has been extremely flexible with me.
“Now that I have a fight coming up, I’ve stepped away to focus on this fight and really just balance my schedule out perfectly to where I can do both.
“I can still do these appearances and matches for AEW but I can be extremely dedicated to bare-knuckle boxing.
“That was something where, the WWE are more exclusive, they want you as a full-time athlete and I just wasn’t ready to commit to that.”
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VanZant lost her opening two BKFC bouts, against Britain Hart, 32 and Rachael Ostovich, 31.
But she returns on August 20 in London looking for her first win in the bare-knuckle ring.
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