Shayna Baszler – The Queen of Spades Ultimate Fighter 18 Weekly Q&A Episode 1
By Dave Carpinello
One of women’s mixed martial arts true pioneers with an extensive fan following, “The Queen of Spades” Shayna Baszler is a member of Team Rousey on The Ultimate Fighter 18 Team Rousey vs. Team Tate. Baszler has been fighting professionally since 2003 and has amassed a record of 15-8-0 with notable wins over Julie Kedzie, Sarah D’Alelio, Alexis Davis, Roxanne Modafferi and Keiko Tamai. The victory over Tamai was groundbreaking for the sport as Baszler became the first fighter to win a fight with the daunted “Twister” submission. Training under “The Warmaster” and catch-submission specialist, Josh Barnett, Baszler is definitely one of the favorites on this season. In her fight to get into the TUF house, Baszler faced Colleen Schneider and won via an armbar submission in the first round. Shayna will be giving her answers to your questions weekly every Monday throughout the season!
Here are some of your questions and Shayna’s answers from TUF 18 Episode 1:
1. How long were you in Las Vegas before you actually fought in the elimination fight against Colleen Schneider? and what was it like leading up to the fight?
Shayna Baszler – We flew into Las Vegas on Sunday and then the weigh-ins were on Tuesday and then the fights were Wednesday. As soon as we arrived they locked us in our rooms and gave us a phone number to call (like some central office in a hotel room) if we needed anything, I mean we couldn’t even leave our rooms to get a bucket of ice. When we had to do the drug tests and such, they would come to our rooms. We had to do our weight cutting in our rooms alone and they said to call them if we were having trouble cutting. The problem with that is that some people don’t know they are having trouble cutting weight until they wake up on the floor after passing out. Luckily, I have gotten my weight cutting down to a science so I didn’t have any of those issues. But it still sucked cutting weight by myself because all there really was in the room was a visitors magazine and no computers/laptops. They did let us keep our phones though at first, so I played a lot of Candy Crush. After weigh-ins, they took our phones and once again locked us back in our rooms. Finally on Wednesday they came and took us to The Ultimate Fighter gym and then it was time to do our thing. Overall it is hard to explain the feeling, other than it was something like cabin fever!
2. Was there anything of any significance or inside controversy that wasn’t shown on the broadcast last week?
Shayna Baszler – Not really but when Tara LaRosa lost her fight to get into the house, I was probably just as devastated as her. Her fight was actually the second to last one but they edited it different for TV. She is one of my closest friends, and the one I was depending on to keep me sane. They didn’t show it, but we were sobbing together and I’m not a crier. We were planning on running the house, doing all kinds of cool stuff and then she lost. Tara has been in the game for a long time and so it really sucked to see that whole situation unfold. It may go back to that cabin fever comment, but it seemed like every emotion was magnified because of the surroundings and the isolation.
They also left out the part where all the surviving fighters got to say goodbye to their family and friends following the elimination fights and then when Dana White tells the fighters who didn’t make it basically thanks for coming, there’s the door. So they all leave and then you see us on TV ready for the team picks. It was all happening super fast with a lot of intensity.
3. Following the team picks, how surprised were you that Miesha Tate took Julianna Pena and in turn were you at all surprised by Ronda Rousey calling for you to fight her in the first fight?
Shayna Baszler – First off, we were all caught off guard because as soon as the teams were picked, Dana looked at Ronda and said “Ok pick your first fight” and it caught her by surprise. No one was expecting to have to pick the first fight immediately following the team picks and so she had very little time to consult with her coaches. I wasn’t all that surprised that Miesha took Julianna because they train together and it could have made for a bad situation after the show if something had occurred between the two if she didn’t pick her. So I understood the reasoning between it but I still knew I should be near the top of the picks and when Ronda picked me I was very thankful. I wouldn’t of had a problem with being on Miesha’s team at the time but I think we have a very similar fighting style so I was excited to see what training with Ronda would add to my toolbox. Like I said earlier, everyone was surprised by the quickness of the fight pick and that moment you guys saw it on TV was the first I heard about it while taping the show. That being said, that is exactly the position you want to be in. You know when your fight is going to be, you know when the weigh-in will be and I wasn’t injured coming out of the elimination round. Everything was good because if you are not that first fight you always need to stay close to weight because you don’t know when your number will be called. It was the best case scenario for me and I really liked the match-up with Julianna.
4. How different and or odd was it that you had to enter the cage without any music or your guitar? and how long had it been since that happened?
Shayna Baszler – That was really weird. It helped that for the past couple of seasons of The Ultimate Fighter that you could bring some family and friends to the elimination fights, so I had my dad and Josh (Barnett) there and also the gym was pretty full, maybe a hundred people. It was like a throwback to when I was fighting at local shows at the fairgrounds. It helped having that audience though since they were cheering and clapping but with no music and it had been a long time since I walked out to a fight without the guitar, it was definitely weird. I don’t think that I have had a televised fight where I didn’t come out with the guitar. I think the last time that happened was a fight for the old SHOXC and it was one of the dark matches that may or may not have been on the internet. The whole situation really threw off my routine but I was paired with Miesha’s coaches and Bryan Caraway had seen me fight before so there was some comfort level and Josh was in the stands and I am so keyed to his voice, so it worked out.
5. You have been critical of Ronda Rousey in the past; what were you your first impressions of her on the show?
Shayna Baszler – I think I have always let it be known that I like heels, like in pro wrestling and I like the bad guys in movies, they have cooler lines and the better costumes. I think the line that I have used in regards to Ronda has always been “I hate everything that she says but I love that I hate it”. I think women’s MMA needed someone like her, so I don’t know if that is exactly criticism. I was never one to jump down her throat about any of that ‘badgirl’ persona, I work with Josh Barnett! and so I definitely understand the need to sell a fight and before TUF I had never actually met her. So I didn’t know if she was just pulling a Chael Sonnen and being some character or what. It was really strange that being in the fight game for so long they we hadn’t met before but when we finally did she was like “I heard you have a zombie outbreak contingency plan” and so we started talking about zombies, guns and video games. So my first impression of her was like wow we are really going to get along. She was really friendly and we got off to a good start, the only thing that worried me was that ‘The Queen of Spades’ is a very strong personality and ‘Rowdy Ronda Rousey’ is also a strong personality. I didn’t know if that was going to clash and I know the hardcore fans out there want to see how intense the grappling sessions in practice may have gone….. but you’ll have to watch the show to find out.
Bonus Question: You come across as a metal head for obvious reasons! What are your favorite bands, new and old, and what are your favorite songs or albums to listen to for motivation?
Shayna Baszler – My two all-time favorite bands are Slayer and KISS. Sometimes people laugh at the KISS choice but that was my dad’s favorite band when I was a kid and come on the lead singer was dressed like a demon. Nowadays I am listening to Atreyu, Bolt Thrower, a little bit of Five Finger Death Punch (I know it is hit or miss for them with the metal fans) and I have been rocking Killswitch Engage’s new album. Motivational wise though, nothing gets me going like Raining Blood from Slayer and also Bolt Thrower because I am pretty sure that every song of theirs has to do with WAR, Destruction and epic battles.
Keep your horns up and don’t miss this week’s episode, Wednesday on FOX Sports 1! – The Queen of Spades
Send in your questions following this week’s episode. You can submit your questions for Shayna by sending them to email@example.com or you can post them below and she will answer them each week following the next show on FOX Sports 1! You can also follow Shayna on her Twitter page and Facebook Fan page.