Who Is Paige VanZant? This 'Dancing With The Stars' Contestant Is No Stranger To Training

You might try to deny that Dancing With The Stars is your guilty pleasure, but I won't believe you. The dance competition show has been a cultural phenomenon since its first season back in 2005 and the announcement of the latest cast is always a moment of excitement for fans. The Season 22 cast of Dancing With The Stars has just been revealed, and as always, there are some people who might not be as well known as others. There was one specific cast member I didn't particularly recognize by name or face: Who is Paige VanZant?

DWTS usually does a fine job of redefining the meaning of "stars" and this season's diverse cast is no exception. There is a little bit of something for everyone, including a blindingly gorgeous male model (Nyle Dimarco), a member of Boyz II Men (Wanya Morris,) and MARISSA COOPER — I mean, Mischa Barton.

As for VanZant, she's paired with Mark Ballas, so we already know that we can expect some pretty theatrical and over-the-top performances from the contestant. As it turns out, VanZant is fairly young, only 21 years old, and is already a well-known and accomplished mixed martial artist. I don't really follow MMA fighters on the daily, so here are some facts I uncovered about VanZant, that fans of DWTS will want to familiarize themselves with before the season kicks off Monday, March 21.

She Has A Background In Dancing

VanZant might have an edge on her competition. She was brought up dancing ballet, jazz and hip hop, growing up in Dayton, Ohio where her parents owned a dance studio. She told Awakening Fighters, "I moved from small town where my parents owned a dance studio. I grew up dancing and when I moved to a scary town like Reno I was nervous and bored."

She Started Fighting Out Of Curiousity

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After moving to Reno, Nevada, her father realized that one of his favorite fighters, Ken Shamrock, had a gym in the area. After not being able to find a dance studio to join, she decided to try a class, telling Awakening Fighters, "I ended up falling in love with fighting. It was my escape from the rest of my crazy life.”

She Was Almost A Reality Star Pre-DWTS

Before her stint on DWTS, VanZant almost appeared on another television show. She was close to being cast on The Ultimate Fighter , but at age 20 didn't meet the age requirement for the show, according to Fox Sports.

She Moved Up The Ranks Quickly

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Only two years after beginning to train, VanZant had her first amateur fight, according to a column on the Reno Gazette-Journal's site. She turned pro two months later after a bout in Corpus Cristi, Texas.

She Is A Self-Proclaimed Tomboy

While growing up in Dayton, VanZant loved to dance but counted many outdoor activities as her hobbies. Her father gave her the nickname "12 Guage," and she rode dirt bikes and fished and hunted, the Reno Gazette-Journal reports.

With her extensive dance experience, it looks like the rest of the Season 22 cast has some serious competition to look out for!