Paige VanZant reveals 'crazed stalker' joined her gym after getting out of jail

Paige VanZant says she had a stalker who followed her all the way to American Top Team.
Paige VanZant
Paige VanZant / Alex Trautwig/GettyImages

Former UFC fighter turned influencer Paige VanZant has revealed some frightening details about a past experience with a stalker. The former Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model says a man had been messaging her for months while he was in jail and those messages went unanswered. She says after he was released from jail he began training at American Top Team in an effort to get closer to her.

“I had a stalker, a big-time stalker,” VanZant said on her podcast. “I’m training and I notice this guy watching me the whole time. Instantly I got the vibe, this guy is f***ing weird, staring at me the whole time. I thought he’s a fan so you try to be nice. Of course, people can be nervous. It was the prime of my UFC career, maybe he was just a fan and was nervous.”

She continued, "He comes over and starts talking to me. He’s like, ‘Hey, how are you? I’m so happy to meet you or I’m so happy that we’re together’. I was like, ‘Oh, okay’. I was like, ‘What’s your name?’. He was like, ‘It’s blah blah blah, we’ve been talking on Instagram for years’. I was like, ‘What?’ I go in the back and open the messages. He’s been messaging me every single day, at least 10 to 20 messages for the last four years. Every day he would message and message and message about how we’re meant to be together. About how Allah told him we were meant to be together and how he was thinking about me the entire time he was in jail.”

Her husband Austin Vanderford was not in the gym due to a broken hand but she says former UFC fighter Ed Herman came to her aid and booted the stalker..

“Short Fuse confronted the creep and told him to hit the bricks, or get bricked, and VanZant was released from her shackles from that point forward.

Maycee Barber had a stalker who was 'sentenced to 10 years'

VanZant isn't the only female MMA star who has head to deal with a stalker. Current UFC fighter Maycee Barber had to deal with a stalker when she was fighting for LFA.

“I had a pretty serious stalker situation which went on for about two-three years,” Barber told MiddleEasy. “At the time that I missed weight, that was when he was not in jail and he was somewhere in Denver and I was fighting in Denver so I was [under] super high stress. They had the SWAT after him, the security at the fight had a picture of him and knew, ‘Hey, this is the guy. Nobody lets this guy in.’ That happened during my weight cut so I was really stressed out. That’s not an excuse, I did what I could and I tried to make the weight and I missed the weight so that’s on me and I still wanted that fight so we made it work. But the end of that story is he’s in jail now. He’s being sentenced to like 10 years.”

Neither Barber nor VanZant will be the only UFC fighter to deal with a stalker. Its a common occurrence in sports and entertainment especially for women. Occassionally these instances can turn deadly as was the case with Amie Harwick. Harwick was the ex-fiancee of comedian Drew Carey and she was killed by a man who was stalking her.

We're glad that both VanZant and Barber were physically unharmed.