Shayna Baszler – The Grand Prix Finals and Final Fantasy
By Dave Carpinello
Top women’s 135 pound contender Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler recently talked with PDG about her recent Freestyle Cage Fighting victory, moving onto the finals, Grappler’s Quest, Strikeforce and ripping it up in Final Fantasy XIII & Gears of War 2 on the Xbox 360.
PDG: Right after your victory over Alexis Davis in the second round of Freestyle Cage Fighting’s 135 pound tournament you continued training for Grappler’s Quest; how did you do in the competition?
Shayna Baszler: Yeah there was no break in my training this time and I competed in two divisions and I won both at the Grappler’s Quest in Orlando, FL. I competed in the no-gi advanced 170lb (and under) division and in the absolute division and I was the smallest female in both.
PDG: Who went down to Florida for the competition with you?
Shayna Baszler: It was just some people from my gym including Bruce Hoyer.
PDG: How rewarding is it to compete in that type of event that is set up to benefit Autism Awareness, Education and Treatment?
Shayna Baszler: It is a great thing and I really enjoy grappling tournaments especially when the competition is top-notch. I’m just glad to be part of something like Grappler’s Quest that does that kind of non-profit work and as a bonus it is one of the top tournaments in the country.
PDG: You have been basically training non-stop for the last couple of months, how much time are you taking off before you start training again for the FCF tournament finals in June?
Shayna Baszler: I just got done doing my certification to be a Muay Thai instructor last weekend and so I’ll probably take the next couple of days off to chill and then it’s back to the gym.
PDG: When you do start training again, how many hours a day will you be in the gym?
Shayna Baszler: I will be sticking to the same training schedule that I always do before a fight. I am at the gym twice a day for six days out of the week and then I rest on Sunday.
PDG: Josh Barnett had mentioned that you would be going out to California to train this time; when will you be doing that?
Shayna Baszler: Yes, we are trying to work out a schedule for that but nothing is set yet.
PDG: How much of an advantage if any is there to going out and training with the guys at CSW (Combat Submission Wrestling) as opposed to the gym where you’d normally train for fights?
Shayna Baszler: Right now I do a lot of work with Josh but it is basically over the phone and by e-mail. He watches my fight videos, critiques them and then gives me things that he feels I need to work on but in going out to California it is always better to train with those guys in person. Not that the training and coaching that I get here in South Dakota isn’t good but Josh has always been heavily involved in my fight training and so it is always better when I can train with him directly and separate myself from my other life and just concentrate on training.
PDG: Speaking of your coach (Barnett); what did you think about his ball busting fight against Mighty Mo in Japan?
Shayna Baszler: [laughs] I know it wasn’t supposed to happen that way but I don’t think that the ending of the fight would have been any different had that not occurred.
PDG: How about Josh taking the kick to his nuts after the fight was over?
Shayna Baszler: I actually thought that was pretty funny because it is Josh’s own fault that he offered Mighty Mo a free shot.
PDG: In your career in mixed martial arts have ever seen anything like what happened in that fight with the doctors, the lab coats, the fighter wanting to quit and everything else?
Shayna Baszler: That 25 minute delay was ridiculous and to make matters worse I was on the road so I had to watch it on my computer in a hotel room at like 4:30 in the morning. I remember thinking how tired I was but I had waited up that late just to watch my coach fig ²ht and so I wasn’t going to give up then. As far as the guys in lab coats putting their hands down Mighty Mo’s pants, that was weird and it reminded me of when they did the same thing after Mirko Cro Cop took one below his belt against Alistair Overeem.
PDG: Are you talking about when the doctor put his hand down Mirko’s shorts and said “Hey we can’t find your left nut the fight is over”?
Shayna Baszler: Exactly.
PDG: Let’s get to the Freestyle Cage Fighting tournament; you won you’re first fight but your victory over Alexis Davis in the semi-finals went to a decision after she took the fight on short notice. Was anything different leading up to your training for that fight that maybe took you off your game a little bit or was it the fact that your opponent changed several times before the event?
Shayna Baszler: It was tough not knowing who the opponent was for most of my training camp. It’s mentally a lot harder to cut weight, diet, and kill yourself in the gym everyday when you don’t have a picture of someone’s face to blame it all on! It almost felt like cutting weight and training for no reason even though I was almost assured of fighting somebody. Nothing really changed as far as my training but it was just more mentally exhausting and anybody who is a fighter will know how hard it is to stay on a training regiment when you don’t know who you are fighting.
PDG: Well you have made it to the finals now and you are facing Jan Finney for the second time in your career; what do you think of her as an opponent?
Shayna Baszler: I think she is definitely a better fighter than the first time that I beat her and she has had some tough fights and earned her way to the finals just like I did.
PDG: The winner of this tournament in FCF is supposed to get a chance to fight Sarah Kaufman in Strikeforce for the 135lb title; have you been keeping an eye on the women fighters in Strikeforce and specifically Kaufman’s last fight?
Shayna Baszler: Yes she had a really good fight but it was rather depressing to see the lack of fan support for the fight as the arena was nearly empty by the end.
PDG: What did you think about the post-fight brawl on CBS when Jason “Mayhem” Miller was jumped by Team Gracie?
Shayna Baszler: I don’t know what was said and nor do I want to speculate but I do think that when you get a couple of guys like “Mayhem” and the Diaz brothers in a cage there are bound to be fireworks. What’s dumb about the whole situation is the rumors I’ve heard about CBS trying to get out of their contract with Strikeforce. They could’ve cut to commercial but they kept the cameras rolling so who’s really to blame here. The other thing is that this happens in every sport so to single out mixed martial arts like it’s some kind of freak sport is ridiculous.
PDG: I agree, let’s get to some video games; they have been heavily advertising the new EA Sports MMA game. What do you think of what you have seen so far of the game and secondly, why are there no female fighters in the game?
Shayna Baszler: I don’t really know why there are no female fighters in the game but if you remember the old UFC: Sudden Impact game for the PlayStation 2, it had Erica Montoya as an un-lockable character. When that happened I remember all the girls saying how great it was going to be that females were going to be fighting in the UFC soon and we see how that has worked out. Nothing ever happened with that!
PDG: Strikeforce is the only major MMA organization out there promoting female fights so it makes no sense why they wouldn’t have female fighters in the game.
Shayna Baszler: I agree but maybe they think that there are not enough interesting female fighters out there that would help promote the game. I mean the general public really only knows Gina Carano and Cris Cyborg. A lot of people don’t even know who Sarah Kaufman is and she is the Strikeforce 135 pound champion.
PDG: I heard you recently got a new Xbox 360 Final Fantasy XIII Edition.
Shayna Baszler: Yes and it has been the bane of my social life. Actually my social life consists of either going to a friend’s house and playing Tekken on their PS3 or them coming over to my house and watching me play Final Fantasy XII.
PDG: So have you gotten into any other games on the 360 besides Final Fantasy?
Shayna Baszler: I have been playing through the Gears of War series again because one of my roommates had never played GOW and is starting to take some interest in first person shooter games. I also got Modern Warfare 2 but I haven’t gotten a chance to play that yet because I know that once you go online and play you never come back from that world. I did go online and got a really good deal on Mass Effect 1 & 2 but I haven’t touched those yet either. It is all about biding my time and I don’t want to get started on those games until I finish Final Fantasy. Although, in playing through the campaign on the first GOW, I am a little surprised about forgetting how epic the gameplay truly is in that game.
PDG: Did you see that they recently announced Gears of War 3?
Shayna Baszler: Yes and I was actually the first one of my friends to even know that it had been announced because I saw the trailer and screenshots on your site.
PDG: Thanks for your time Shayna, is there anything else that you want to add?
Shayna Baszler: Thanks again for all the support and for the fans of women’s MMA, you can also keep up with me and ask me questions in my blog on the forums of PunchDrunkGamer. I want to thank all my sponsors including Lethal Performance, the Sioux Falls Roller Dollz, PunchDrunkGamer and Hitman Fight Gear.
*Stay tuned to PDG because fans are going to get a chance to win a night of Xbox Live gaming with the “Queen of Spades”.
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