Sheena Starr, who will welcome ex-UFC star Paige VanZant to bareknuckle boxing next year, says she had ‘no idea’ of the abuse VanZant experienced in her life when she took an x-rated shot at her upcoming opponent on social media.
The 37-year-old Starr, who owns a 1-1 record in Bareknuckle Fighting Championship, was slammed online for comments in which she said that she was going to derail VanZant’s “hype train worse than the train that was ran on her at Team Alpha Male“, suggesting significant sexual impropriety at VanZant’s former training base, the Urijah Faber-led Team Alpha Male MMA.
The comment did not go down well with VanZant’s supporters, who quickly reminded Starr that ’12 Gauge’ had detailed in her 2018 book ‘Rise: Surviving the Fight of my Life’ an horrific instance of being gang-raped as a teenager. VanZant also revealed in the book that the incident left her contemplating taking her own life.
CW: Sexual assault Disgusting. Paige VanZant was gang raped in high school and experienced severe bullying after. Probably heard comments exactly like this. It can already be difficult for survivors to reform healthy bonds with sexuality. Slut shaming is gross toward anyone. pic.twitter.com/SJWsJI3F9v
Starr latere recanted her comments, however, but stopped short of issuing the full apology that many fans thought necessary.
“This is absolutely horrible,” Starr wrote online. “I had no idea about her assault. Please nobody think that the quote that was made had anything to do with this as it was just brought to my attention TODAY, also I would NEVER take a stab at anyone in regards to being legitimately assaulted and if I knew of this prior I would have given a different quote COMPLETELY.
“What the rumour is w (with) [Team] Alpha Male [MMA] is what SHE did. Her sexual assault is what someone ELSE did to her… totally different ya know, don’t twist it.”
“I felt like I was a smart girl,” VanZant previously told U.S. television of her assault, which occurred when she was 14-years-old.
“My parents raised me well. They raised me to know better and to have some intuition, and it all went out the window just because I was so lonely, and I was in so much pain. All I could think about is like, ‘Wow, I have somebody that wants to be my friend.’
“When I walked in the door of their house, I was like, ‘This probably isn’t a good idea.”
VanZant will get an opportunity to score a measure of revenge against Starr when they meet in the BKFC ring in February after VanZant signed with the upstart fight promotion following a nine-fight stint with the UFC.