The history of UFC fighters appearing on Dancing With the Stars has been a brief but painful one. Chuck Liddell was the first to break the mold in Season 9, getting axed after the 4th week and finishing in 11th place (out of 16) overall. His old rival Randy Couture was next to appear some ten seasons later, but met a similarly swift end. Big Nog and Denis Kang also appeared in the Brazilian and Korean versions of the show, respectively, but failed to make it past the first few rounds. Who would think that professional fighters would have such notoriously terrible footwork?
Enter UFC strawweight Paige VanZant, who announced earlier this month that she had signed on to join the 22nd season (!) of the hit ABC competition show following her hard-fought loss to Rose Namajunas last year. Given VanZant’s athleticism and background as a former dancer, it seemed as if she would be the first MMA fighter to actually excel on the show, and she’s done nothing short of that thus far.
Last night, VanZant overcame a last-minute injury (of her dancing partner, Mark Ballas) to claim the highest score of the season, a 24, by dancing the tango alongside replacement partner Alan Bersten. Check out the video of her performance above.
After the jump: VanZant’s debut performance from the first episode of the season.