Paige VanZant hasn’t seen any of the “Austin Powers” films, but the Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter certainly stepped effectively into character Monday night in dancing to the ‘60s-style theme music on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”
Judges awarded VanZant an impressive score of 28, with one perfect ‘10,’ after she and partner Mark Ballas completed the number with VanZant getting tossed into the air.
Although she was left in jeopardy, VanZant survived, pending tonight’s voting, with former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Doug Flutie getting eliminated.
“It came together because we had so much fun doing it, just being goofy and silly from the iconic movie,” VanZant said. “I love comedy. All my favorite movies are comedies, so I need to go see it.”
“That’s all Mark, he does absolutely everything,” VanZant said. “He choreographs the set, he decides what we wear – I throw in a little bit – but he’s very creative. For Ballas, it seems like it comes easy. He has some amazing sets and is known for his creativity. A lot of the other dancers have talked about that.”
Among the entertained in the crowd was UFC President Dana White.
“He was just really proud of me,” VanZant said of White. “Having him there made things a little more nerve-racking, but I perform well when the pressure’s on. It was an honor he came to support me.”
After attending Saturday’s UFC 197 card headlined by Jon Jones in Las Vegas, VanZant said “there is fight talk in the work. We’re talking matchups. We should have something very soon. It’s all a secret now.”
She continues to train in mixed martial arts while in “Dancing With the Stars” mode, training with an “The Ultimate Fighter” reality television series coach and at Jay Glazer’s Southland gym.
For now, the focus is the show, and VanZant admitted she hopes sports fans will help support her cause.
“Maybe a part of why I was in jeopardy is that only people in American can vote, not the fans the UFC has throughout the world,” VanZant said. “Maybe I don’t have the votes yet, and I am competing against two NFL players, including Von [Miller], the Super Bowl MVP. It’s hard. I need more people to jump behind me and vote for me.”
Would she be willing to talk smack on Miller?
“No, his routine was amazing. I love Von,” she said. “I enjoy watching the show and watching him. I’ve become friends with so many people on the show.”