Shayna Baszler – The Queen of Spades Ultimate Fighter 18 Weekly Q&A Episode 2
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 was 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. On Episode 2, she faced Julianna Pena and in a shocking upset was submitted in the second 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 2:
1. You suffered a stunning defeat at the hands of Julianna Pena (Team Tate) in the first fight of the season. What happened and what was it like watching again on TV?
Shayna Baszler – It was hard to watch because I already knew how it ended. I know that I am a better fighter than her and that makes it even harder to swallow, no matter what sport you play. I think it is even harder in mixed martial arts because of all the “so-called” fight experts that are out there. As far as what went wrong in the fight, it wasn’t my conditioning, I wasn’t tired. I think I won the first round and so I was coasting in round two and Julianna was fighting for her life. I had already mentally checked out of the second round when she caught me with that one good punch and I was thinking about round three. That is something that as a fighter you cannot allow yourself to do and everyone saw the result of it.
2. What was your first practice like with your new coaches on Team Rousey and in particular grappling with Ronda Rousey?
Shayna Baszler – It was awesome, the first practice took place the day after we all fought in the elimination fights. I spent most of the practice rolling with Ronda and it was awesome. I said earlier that going into the show I was concerned that our two mega personalities may clash if I was on her team but it wasn’t like that at all. Training was training, sparring was sparring, rolling was rolling and it never turned into a big ego battle. From the first practice I knew that being able to tap into the knowledge of her coaches, Andy Dermenjian, Manny Gamburyan, Marina Shafir and Edmond Tarverdyan, was going to be a once in a lifetime experience.
3. Your pre-fight tactics including putting the card in Julianna’s bra and all of the smack talk that it showed on the episode rubbed some people the wrong way. Immediately following your loss, did you have any regrets about any of it?
Shayna Baszler – Everybody seems to be all up in arms about the playing card in the bra but for anyone who has followed my career, they know I always pull some type of antic. One time I had a lightsaber at weigh-ins when I was fighting in Invicta FC, I always try to spice it up somehow. The weigh-ins are boring, you stand on a scale, then your opponent stands on a scale, then you face eachother, its just dumb. So I always try to do something to inject some entertainment but I was very limited being in the TUF house. I didn’t have any props, toys or fun costumes available…. we had access to a chess board and playing cards. I thought it was funny but apparently some people got all butt hurt by it, they must be offended by playing cards. As far as the trash talk goes, I said what I said but it definitely looked worse since they took everything I had been saying for a while and lumped it all together for that one-hour episode. It is all part of the fight game and you have to be confident no matter who you are fighting. I fought my close friend Tara LaRosa and I forced myself to find something that I didn’t like about her going into that fight.
4. What was your first impressions upon moving into The Ultimate Fighter house and were there any deuschbags that stood out?
Shayna Baszler – I think I will wait to answer the part about the deuschbags because I don’t want to spoil anything and I am sure you will see it play out this season. When we first moved in that house was massive, lots of places to hang out and it was super nice. The kitchen was always full of food and anything else you needed, it was great. At first it was hard to wrap your head around the fact that you were in the TUF house and that you were on The Ultimate Fighter. It was almost like choosing bunks at summer camp when you were a kid.
5. Following your loss, how did you handle it emotionally and what were you thinking you needed to do to bounce back?
Shayna Baszler – Obviously when I lost, that was the first fight so we had another five weeks to be on the show. Five weeks of not being able to talk to your family and your friends, not be able to watch TV, not being able to access the internet and listening to everyone else talk about their possible upcoming fights, those first couple of days sucked as that set in. But since I was the first to lose I was able to order some beer and I could take a couple of days without worrying about my weight. Of course I want back in the competition so I wasn’t going to overdue it though. It was definitely “alone” time but training would be become my solace. After my loss, I told Ronda Rousey that I was going to train as hard as ever because I didn’t need to save my body at that time. You will see what happens young Jedi….
6. When Rousey did the Skype interview she kept saying she did it all “for the kids”. This comment made me think you were not in the house long, since I couldn’t see Rousey calling you a kid. But then you said that you all got so close in the house, which made me think you would win, and thus get more time to get so close. Did you really grow that close in a week’s time? How much down time did you guys have vs. training? What would you say was your best, bonding memory in the house up to this point in the show?
Shayna Baszler – I have been getting this question quite a bit and so here goes, when you lose in the “tournament” you stay in the house, you don’t get sent home or kicked off like on the show Survivor. So you continue training and working with your team and coaches, which even though losing sucks you get a chance to work on things that you probably wouldn’t work on if you were getting ready for a fight because you don’t want to flood your brain with a bunch of new techniques right before a fight. So we didn’t get close in a week, we got close over the course of the season… or did we? What I can say is that being in that environment does one thing to everyone, it forces you to interact. You had two choices, sit in your room and stare at the walls or talk to your roommates, coaches and team members. As far as the bonding with Ronda goes, she had some very encouraging things to say to me following my loss and so I would have to go with that.
7. What did your longtime coach Josh Barnett think of your loss to Julianna?
Shayna Baszler – Well, Josh being Josh, he had his critiquing and he wasn’t happy at all because he felt the same way that I did, that this was a tournament that I should have won. He also felt that the emotional issues that I had going into that fight are ones that I should have solved prior and not had and I couldn’t argue with that. So he was disappointed in that aspect but he has also been very helpful and supportive especially with the overnight sensation that episode created. I have a whole train full of haters barreling down on me but I also have a huge increase in loyal supporters and Josh and even Ronda have been helping me with that. Josh is like any other coach, yelling at me for the things that I deserve to be yelled at about and then pointing out the good things as well.
8. So what do you have to say to all of those critics and haters out there that have been talking all of that shit for the last week?
Shayna Baszler – I guess if I had the balls to critique someone who sits on their couch and switches their channels with their little remote control I would but I don’t want to overstep my bounds. They can point all the fingers and talk on the interwebs all they want but for all of the fingers they are pointing at me, I don’t see any being pointed at Julianna. Unfortunately for her, she had a big upset but no one is talking about her. All you haters are talking about me, so keep it up, keep the traffic moving. Thanks, it is much appreciated. Also, stay tuned this week haters because I may have a surprise up my sleeve for you!
Keep your horns up and Tyrone, sorry I am not currently single. Don’t miss this week’s all new 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.