The Octagon is an unforgiving place. It’s a minefield of hurt with very few rules.
But outside those eight caged walls, the UFC impose their own set of diktats which can leave athletes fighting against their bodies and forgoing a clean bill of health to make weight.
Just take MMA superstar, Paige VanZant.
— Paige VanZant (@PaigeVanzantUFC) August 25, 2017
The 23-year-old model-turned-fighter recently took to social media to reveal the brutal consequences of cutting and making weight at those charged weigh-ins.
VanZant, from Dundee, Oregon, was announced as one of the 11 women signed by Dana White and the UFC for its newly created Strawweight division in 2015, but ended her run in this August ranked No. 12 due to health issues surrounding her weight.
Then, VanZant moved to the 125-pound flyweight division, and seems pretty happy with her newfound physique.
— Josh Sánchez (@jnsanchez) October 11, 2017
She shared a photograph of herself when she was at her lowest weight, writing:
115lb Paige? Ain’t nobody got time for that!!
Haha I can’t wait to wreck shop at 125!!!! Who agrees????
115lb Paige? Ain’t nobody got time for that!! Haha I can’t wait to wreck shop at 125!!!! Who agrees???? pic.twitter.com/RFvyNNzdu2
— Paige VanZant (@PaigeVanzantUFC) October 11, 2017
In an interview on The MMA Hour, VanZant claimed:
I’m a lot heavier than people realise. I was honestly killing myself for this sport. In my last I want to say two fights or three fights, I’ve passed out in my bathroom.
This last one, I passed out and had the doctors almost not cleared me for the fight.
VanZant was booked against flyweight Jessica Eye at UFC 216 on October 7 but was forced to pull out of the fight, citing a back injury and a list of further ailments such as a herniated disc, sinus infection, double ear infection, pink eye and ringworm.
The Dancing With the Stars competitor, while focusing on keeping all 125lbs of her body strong and fit, is also preparing for her book release.
Titled Rise, it will document her rise to fame, including her UFC battles, personal battles and appearances on television.
— Paige VanZant (@PaigeVanzantUFC) September 19, 2017
Meanwhile, the Octagon can look forward to the welcome return of its biggest star. After holding his own in the boxing ring with Floyd Mayweather this summer, The Notorious has finally announced his comeback gig.
Nate Diaz isn’t even involved. Nope. UFC puppet master, Dana White, has some more logical plans for the Irish champion.
This time, McGregor will be returning to his Ultimate Fighting roots and defending his title against newly-crowned king Tony Ferguson, who earned the strap by submitting Kevin Lee during Saturday night’s main event.
At the UFC 216 post-fight press conference, White said:
Tony’s the interim champion. Conor’s the champion. It’s the fight that makes sense. It’s the fight that has to happen. Doesn’t make sense. It’s the fight that has to happen.
White continued to conclude McGregor is hoping to return to the Octagon before the year’s end.
The Irishman has been enjoying some well-deserved time out of training, after escaping to Ibiza with friends and family, as well as developing a self-confessed ‘wealth belly‘ and his own branded Notorious whiskey.
Meanwhile, a full trailer for the upcoming McGregor documentary has been released:
But perhaps his eye has always been on defending his prize? And now his two-month health-related fight ban is lifted, maybe he's ready to throw some kicks and punches?
It sounds like this fight could be happening sooner than expected.