Paige VanZant keeps rolling on 'Dancing With the Stars'

Keep up with UFC strawweight Paige VanZant as she competes on Season 22 of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars as recaps her performance and each week’s show every Monday.

Dancing second on last week’s debut, Paige VanZant and partner Mark Ballas seemed to be graded a little tougher than the competitors that hit the ballroom floor a little later in the program. As the night went on, judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman appeared to get a little more liberal with their scores.

Nonetheless, Team Pow Right in the Kisser still came away in a tie for fourth after the opening round of scoring and appeared in position to do well in the competition.

Unexpectedly, VanZant’s practice training for fights and having to adjust on the fly as opponents dropped out was put to the test in Week 2, but this time it was her partner who went down and had to be replaced. Ballas suffered a back injury during Sunday’s rehearsals, resulting in VanZant dancing on Monday with professional Alan Bersten as her partner looked on from the balconey.

And the hastily put together tandem killed it.

“Congratulations on the best dance so far on Season 22,” the usually tough to impress Len Goodman gushed.

“You were unleashed tonight with the power of volcanic explosion,” erupted the fiery Bruno Tonioli, who reminded VanZant of a minor correction he urged her to keep in mind in Week 1 for a second time. “Be careful not going ahead of the music. Sometimes, you go a little bit ahead, so control it.”

Carrie Ann Inaba echoed that reminder, but then jumped out of her chair to tell VanZant and Bersten, “You destroyed that number! You’re so powerful as a dancer.”

Dancing third, the tandem registered the highest score of the evening to that point and the highest total for the season, getting eights across the board for a total of 24.

“I just had to not think about that I was with a whole new partner,” VanZant said, speaking with backstage host Erin Andrews following the performance and scores, likening it to her fighting career. “It was scary. When I fight, opponents switch, so I thought about it like that and had to pull it together.”

The outlook on Ballas is currently unknown. The two-time winner, who felt a twinge in his back while prepping for the show Sunday, explained that he had an MRI on Monday, with his doctors recommending a bone scan and CT scan later in the week to determine the extent of his injuries.

“Hopefully I’ll be back,” he told Andrews, gushing at the scores garnered from his choreography and partner, but clearly hurting.

Team Pow Right in the Kisser’s closest competition on Monday’s second episode of the season were Week 1 co-leaders Wayna Morris and Lindsay Arnold, who also notched a 24 also to tie for the lead.

This week marked the first time a team was eliminated. The couples in jeopardy at the close of the show were Mischa Barton and Artem Chigvintsev, Geraldo Rivera and Edyta Sliwinska and Doug Flutie and Karina Smirnoff, meaning VanZant and Ballas were clear.

Monday night, the axe fell on Rivera and Sliwinska, leaving 11 couples on the dance floor for next week.

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