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PVZ chokes soldier OUT

Paige VanZant chokes out a US Armed Services member in front of a delighted audience in Afghanistan.

This story is one part of a long effort by MixedMartialArts.com to understand what works in martial arts. The process is to study what happens on the street, or in this case on a stage, rather than what happens in the arena. Check out the library on:
Martial Arts on The Street
Mutual Combat
Female Fighters


The United Service Organizations Inc. (USO) is a nonprofit-charitable corporation that since 1947 has provided live entertainment, including actors, athletes, and musicians, to members of the United States Armed Forces and their families. In 2018, then top UFC female flyweight Paige VanZant and top UFC male featherweight Max Holloway were part of a USO tour that went from South Korea, to Japan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Germany

During the Vietnam War, USO tours took place within combat Zones, and PVZ told TMZ Sports that during a stop at Bagram Airforce Base in Afghanistan, the location came under fire.

“One of the bases we were at got shot at!” said Paige.“We all had to like duck and hide under the table until it was all clear … until they could deflect the fire coming into the base.” 

However, that was not the only unanticipated altercation in Bagram. PVZ was demonstrating some basic mixed martial arts techniques, and when it came time to show a rear naked choke, the uke was supposed to be Max Holloway.

"Originally I was going to show a choke on Max, but [an armed services member in the audience] put up his hand and said, 'Hey Paige, can you choke me?' ... I told him to tap when it starts choking you."

This is what happened; the crowd loved it.

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Here's a close up.

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"He didn't tap, so it's not my fault," said the fighter light heartedly. "I felt terrible, because that is definitely not what I planned on doing. Luckily all of [the service members] are tough, and everyone loved it. I was so embarrassed - I did not mean to choke him out."

What The Choke Means

This is another amazing illustration of the effectiveness of jiu-jitsu. The far larger US soldier was effortlessly put to sleep by the 125 martial artist. Compare that to PVZ trying to knock him out via strikes. She probably could. It also could cause lasting damage to the soldier, and to her fists. Instead, everyone had a great, funny day.

This is not at all to say that jiu-jitsu is better than the striking arts. It is simply illustrating that it is an invaluable art to know.

PVZ Since

VanZant was cut by the UFC in 2020 after a first round submission loss to Amanda Ribas. However, she signed with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, and has a hugely successful subscription site at OnlyFans.

“I will say when I signed with BKFC, the bare-knuckle boxing, I was making more money than I had made in my entire UFC career,” said VanZant to MMA Fighting. “Now I’m making more money than my entire BKFC contract in like a month. It’s pretty crazy.”

Female fighters who have subscription sites with adult-oriented content sometimes face criticism, but PVZ is happy.

“I’m sharing what I’m comfortable with,” she said. “I’m sharing as much as I want to. It’s my website. It’s my experience. It is for the fans."

"I didn’t want to put myself in a position where I would lose business opportunities based on having an exclusive content site, but I feel like I’m already seen as a sex symbol in the sports world. I might as well have the monetization behind it.

“There weren’t a lot of people who left the UFC in the prime of their career. There were a lot of veterans that had left the UFC that were kind of on that tail end, looking for a few more fights. For me, I was a free agent at 26 years old. I was really young. 

"It was nerve-wracking to know you’re leaving the powerhouse of combat sports. But now I know it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Since I’ve left, I’ve seen multiple fighters leave the UFC — and it’s not a diss at the UFC necessarily, but I think it’s more an awakening in fighters knowing there’s money out there and we’re going to be compensated for what we’re doing.”