The DWTS two-night finale beings Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC

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Credit: ABC/Craig Sjodin

brightcove.createExperiences(); UFC Fighter Paige VanZant is blogging for PEOPLE about her experience on Dancing with the Stars‘s 22nd season. Follow VanZant and her partner Mark Ballas on Twitter!

Last Monday night went so well! Not only did we get a perfect score on our trio dance, but then I got to hear my name called as one of the finalists. I definitely did not expect that would happen when I started on this journey a few months ago – especially after seeing how tough the competition was this season.

I definitely thought things were going to get easier as the competition went along. But going into rehearsals for the finals this week, it has been harder than ever. I put a lot of pressure on myself, and that gets compounded by the fact that we have two really hard dances.

We wanted to make sure we went into the finale with two really technically difficult routines that can show the audience how much I’ve grown and what we can do together.

One of the dances Mark and I will be doing is our salsa routine, which is special because that was the routine he got injured doing in rehearsals and I had to dance with troupe member Alan Bersten instead. I’m so glad we get to finally do it together.

For our second dance, we’re doing a contemporary routine. I feel like I’ve opened up a bit about my struggles, and this emotional routine will kind of be the final chapter of my story of hardship. I want to show everyone that if you can push through the pain, you can have a bright future.

As I’ve opened up more and more, I think I’ve realized that as much as I’m here to do the best that I can and hopefully win, what’s most important is that I’ve gained a lot of confidence and I’ve grown so much as a person on this journey.

My DWTS experience has really empowered me to speak out and be vocal against bullying. It’s given me a good, new purpose in life.

I still want to win though!

The two-night Dancing with the Stars season 22 finale begins Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.