Lindsey VanZandt has never fought or even travelled overseas, but she won’t let that faze her heading into her RIZIN 20 bout against RENA.
“I’m just looking at it as another fight. I try to look at all fights as just another fight,” said VanZandt in an interview on Tuesday.
The fight on New Year’s Eve will be a rematch, as VanZandt previously got a first-round rear-naked choke win over RENA at Bellator 222. VanZandt used a similar approach heading into that fight.
“I fought at Madison Square Garden, and everybody was making a really really big deal about it, and it is a big deal ‘cause it’s Madison Square Garden and I’ve lived in New York my whole life so it was really cool to fight there, but I kept telling myself ‘just another fight Lindsey’ because it puts so much pressure on you… after, it’s like I took it all in and was like ‘oh my god, I can’t believe that this just happened.’ So, it’s cool and I’ll do the same thing when I’m over there (in Japan).”
The fight will mark the fifth bout that the New York fighter has entered in 2019, the most that she has done in a single year. Going 3-1 in the year so far, VanZandt has picked up wins in Bellator and Invicta FC. All three wins were via stoppage within the first two rounds.
“I like to stay as active as possible. My manager knows that and always tries to get me fights. Especially if I’m not injured and healthy so we get as many in as possible. It just makes more comfortable now having more experience.”
“In this year I’ve gained a lot more experience stand-up wise and I’ve gained more confidence in stand-up and I guess I’m finally becoming more of myself,” said VanZandt when reflecting on her past year of growth.
Her opponent, RENA, had an eight-year career in Shoot Boxing prior to making her MMA debut in 2015. Through kickboxing and MMA, RENA has finished opponents 16 out of her 41 wins. RENA has primarily fought in RIZIN lately, with a record of 8-2 in the promotion.
Just like their first meeting, RENA and VanZandt will compete at a catchweight of 112 lbs. “I’ve been at 110 (pounds) for the last couple of months or so. I mean, I should probably start bulking right?” said VanZandt. “Sometimes I forget to eat. Just cause I’m training so much, sometimes I have to tell myself ‘yeah eat a snack right now.’” In the past, VanZandt usually fought at atomweight (105 lbs).
VanZandt will leave for Japan before Christmas but noted that she’ll celebrate the holidays a couple days before the trip. And while heading into her fight focused, she’ll make sure to do indulge in the countries tourist attractions as well.
“We’ll definitely have time to do sightseeing and stuff like that because you can only train so much in a day … Both of my coaches have been there and they know some cool stuff to do so I’m excited.”
While VanZandt has yet to make a formal New Year’s resolution list, one goal is clear already:
“I want gold around my waist. I want the champ of something, I’m thinking Invicta, they might be having a tournament soon or something … I finally feel like I’m ready. It’s funny because all of the title shots I have gotten as an amateur I lost, so I’m excited to finally get some kind of belt.”