Did UFC fighter Paige VanZant seal the deal for the Mirror Ball Trophy on “Dancing with the Stars”? Though deaf model Nyle DiMarco may be season 22’s sentimental favorite, VanZant is the season’s top scorer, and she was the judges’ top dancer during the finals. No one has taken the Mirror Ball Trophy without getting the top judges’ score in the finals since Donald Driver in season 14.
DiMarco performed a freestyle routine that judge Carrie Ann Inaba called the show’s best dance ever, but VanZant and pro partner Mark Ballas answered that challenge with a perfect freestyle routine of their own, scoring 30 out of 30. That followed a nearly perfect salsa in the first round (scoring 29, for a total of 59), putting her two points ahead of DiMarco (57) and one point ahead of meteorologist Ginger Zee (58).
VanZant also needs viewers to vote for her in earnest, but according to our recent poll DiMarco is our readers’ favorite contestant. However, VanZant is helped by the fact that she’s partnered with Ballas, a longtime “DWTS” pro with a strong fan base of his own and two Mirror Ball Trophies to his name: he won with figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi in season six and gymnast Shawn Johnson in season eight, so Ballas has a proven track record with elite athletes.
Will VanZant take the Mirror Ball Trophy? Watch her freestyle dance above, comment below, and then discuss all things reality TV in our forums.