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19th Apr 2015

Dana White claims Paige VanZant already has that “Conor McGregor-like” star quality

All aboard the VanZant hype train

Ben Kiely

Dana White reckons that 21-year-old Paige VanZant is already a superstar after her stunning second fight in the UFC.

The 21-year-old starlet backed up the hype in New Jersey with a dominant decision victory over veteran strawweight Felice Herrig.

VanZant stepped up to the plate in her main card debut against the vastly more experienced Herrig to get the nod from the judges.

The UFC have invested a lot in the young fighter, having already given her a lucrative Reebok deal ahead of Carla Esparza, who was the champion at the time.

White was singing VanZant’s praises after the bout and admitted that the victory has given the promotion a bit of a headache over who to match her up with next.

“The problem with Paige now is she’s young and she’s 5-1 now, but she’s probably going to be ranked in the low top 10 now. She’s gonna be 9, 10, 8. She’s gonna be in that ballpark somewhere. We’ll see how we move her. She’s definitely in the danger zone now.”

El Presidente hinted that VanZant’s drawing power might see fans wanting her to be fast-tracked through the ranks of the newly established women’s strawweight division, but her lack of experience will work against her. He compared her meteoric like rise to prominence to that of a certain acerbic-tongued Irish fighter.

“It’s almost like the Conor McGregor thing. The guy bursts out of nowhere, explodes onto the scene and backs it up. And Paige VanZant did tonight, too. She looked unbelievable. And she is. She’s one of those people that has that thing.”

“She’s got that thing that I always talk about — that thing you can’t teach. Everybody in my dressing room tonight wanted to meet her. They were like, ‘We want to meet Paige VanZant.’ She’s got that thing man. And she can fight.”

Here’s hoping the youngster will follow in McGregor’s footsteps and thrive under the pressure being heaped on her. Judging by her ever-improving performances, she has potential to do some damage in the world’s largest MMA promotion.