The undefeated Bellator middleweight will take on legendary world champion Gegard Mousasi at Dublin’s 3Arena on Friday night, and his wife will be around for her big moment.
Austin Vanderford will finally step out of the shadow of his wife Paige VanZant when he takes on Gegard Mousasi for the Bellator middleweight title this week.
The undefeated fighter will take on the legendary Mousasi at Dublin’s 3Arena on Friday in one of the most anticipated fights of the year.
And he could shake off his infamous ‘Mr VanZant’ moniker if he can win the Dutchman over in front of a surely boisterous crowd when the promotion returns to Dublin.
But Vanderford insists he’s not fazed by an ongoing bond with his wife, who is one of MMA’s most famous fighters and an instantly recognizable personality in the sport.
“I embrace the Mr. VanZant thing,” Vanderford said. Battle Mirrorbefore the event. “I think it’s funny.
“Also, I love talking about my wife, I don’t care about being asked about her, I love talking about her whether it’s my fight week or not.”
But he acknowledges that a victory on Friday night could eclipse either of their moments in the sport to date and propel him into his own stratosphere.
“We do a really good job supporting each other,” he continued.
“There’s so much emotion, so much preparation and stuff that goes into every fight, it’s almost like the other is fighting too when we have a contest.
“It’s not necessarily a competition between us, but we’re like a sidekick to each other, he’s someone who understands and understands the process and how I feel on a daily basis.
“She wants to make my life easier and does everything to help me in this process.”
And the ex-UFC star turned bare-knuckle boxer will be in her corner at the iconic Irish venue to support her husband in his toughest career test yet.
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His record currently stands at an impressive 11-0, but he has yet to face anyone in the vein of Mousasi, who will step into the cage for fight No. 58 of his storied career to take on the American.
“I’ve looked at all the past cards and these Irish fight fans are going to make this a night to remember,” Vanderford added.
“Most who fight him won’t have fought anyone like him, he’s such a seasoned veteran, he’s fought so many guys and almost everyone who fights him, that’s their biggest step up.”
“It’s the battle of the murderers every day in my gym in American Top Team, sparring partners and guys I train with, of course Gegard is good but I know what I’m I can bring to the table.
“Most of the time with a guy like him there’s a bit more, no strategy per se, but it’s just different – it’s been a long training camp, I just want to show what I can make.”
You can watch Bellator 275: Mousasi vs Vaderford live on BBC Three this Friday night from the 3Arena in Dublin.