PAIGE VANZANT has gone to war with UFC chief Dana White and blasted: “I thought we were closer.”
The model and MMA favourite slammed White and claimed the UFC president set her up by pairing her against the “very toughest opponent” for her final fight.
The 26-year-old American lost what was due to be her final UFC fight against Brazilian sensation Amanda Ribas last Sunday.
And amid speculation VanZant could turn to WWE or even sign a new MMA deal, the stunning fighter has hit out at White.
She said of her clash with Ribas on Fight Island: “This is the exact fight the UFC wanted.
“They kind of do this to people when they’re on the last fight on their contract.
“They give them, like, the perfect style match-up. I went against somebody, she’s 10-1, I’ve almost had lay-offs, calculating like three years I’ve only been able to fight once cause I keep getting injured.
“Obviously, it was the very toughest opponent they could give me for my one returning fight I had left.
“I didn’t play into what the UFC wanted. Of course, I still had confidence going into it. Amanda was so talented. I’m so excited to see where her career goes.”
VanZant was totally annihilated by Ribas – as fight fans’ predictions came true.
But many VanZant fans had hoped she could go out on a high.
White ignited the row with VanZant by taking a parting shot after she had claimed she makes more money from her Instagram than she does from UFC.
Reacting to those quotes, VanZant told MMA Fighting: “Honestly, I didn’t actually see specifically the quote or what he said. I try not to pay attention too much.
“It’s unfortunate because I feel like I have a really good relationship with Dana.
“I feel like I thought we were closer friends and he could text me or call me. Something to have a little bit of compassion, something to communicate with me personally but maybe he will.
“We just don’t know. I’m sure it’s an uncomfortable situation.”
VanZant added that she holds no ill feelings towards UFC or White, and hinted at a potential return.
“I’ve never spoken negatively about the UFC.
“I’m not bitter about where I am in my career, bitter about the position that the UFC has put me in whatsoever. I just felt like for myself, I wanted to test free agency and that’s not because I dislike the UFC or dislike Dana or anybody.
“I know the way my career has looked the last few years but I also know the talent that I have fought against.
“The combined record of the people who have beat me is pretty high. Losing to the people I have lost to, I still consider myself one of the best athletes in the world.
“I know I’m going to be a champion. I know that I’ll come back and keep fighting for many, many years.”
VanZant became a household name in the USA 2016 when she appeared on Dancing With The Stars, their version of Strictly Come Dancing.