The chances of Paige VanZant emerging from her bare-knuckle boxing debut unscathed are slim to none.
Regardless of the result of her first fight tonight against Britain Hart, the nature of the sport means the bout will leave its mark.
But for a woman who carries more mental scars than most, a few cuts and bruises will barely raise an eyebrow.
Growing up in Oregan, VanZant excelled in dance from an early age, trying out ballet, dance and hip-hop.
But her life was changed forever when, aged just 14, she was gang-raped by a group of boys who had plied her with alcohol at a party.
"They move me around… they change my position," VanZant wrote in her autobiography Rise: Surviving the Fight of My Life .
"I fail each time I try to resist, my limbs like wet cement on my body, my brain a heavy fog. I am awake and conscious, but my body feels dead.
"I know what is happening but can do nothing to stop it. I have no voice or choice but to submit and pray that it ends soon."
In the aftermath, rumours quickly spread around school that VanZant had had consensual sex with the boys.
She was bullied and, having been born Paige Sletten, VanZant changed her surname after bullies taunted her by calling her "Slutton".
On one occasion she returned home to find condoms hanging from the trees outside her house like Christmas decorations.
And the abuse was so bad that she considered killing herself.
"I didn't see any other way out," she said recently.
"When you're in that position, when you're feeling that much pain, it's not that you want to die… you just don't want to be in pain anymore.
"I didn't have anywhere to run to, I didn't have anybody to turn to."
But speaking at the launch of her book, VanZant said: “It almost makes it feel like everything I went through was worth it.
"Like I went through it for a purpose. Once this book comes out, if it changes someone’s life, then what I went through wasn’t meaningless, it wasn’t something terrible. It wasn’t a tragedy. It was something beautiful and it’s gonna be good and it’s gonna help people."
VanZant, now 26, moved to Las Vegas with her family shortly after she was raped and aged 15 walked into Ken Shamrock's The Lion's Den gym.
Her background in dance saw her quickly adapt to martial arts and climbed the ranks until she joined the UFC's new strawweight division in 2013.
VanZant would fight nine times over an injury-plagued seven years, amassing a record of 5-4 before leaving the promotion last year.
Source: Read Full Article