Shayna Baszler – The Queen of Spades Ultimate Fighter 18 Weekly Q&A Episode 4
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 4:
1. It has been a few days/weeks since your loss to Julianna Pena, through the last episode how had your demeanor and mental status adjusted to life in the TUF house?
Shayna Baszler – Like I stated before, right after I lost that fight it was difficult because I really didn’t want to be there any more. But after I finally pulled my head out of my butt, I had a really good time training, learning new tricks and working with my team, things that you can’t do when you are training for a fight. At this point in the season I really took on the role of a mentor to my teammates that were still in the tournament. Especially Jessamyn Duke, who I had known for a while, I took her under my wing and tried to share as much of my knowledge as possible. I also worked a lot with Jessica Rakoczy and was basically Ronda’s demo girl when she was demonstrating different judo throw techniques to the fighters.
2. Last week on MMAFighting’s TUF 18 blog with Julianna Pena, she stated that the losses of all the veterans had the younger girls in the house saying, “Out with the old, in the with the new.” How does this make you feel as a pioneer in the sport, and as one of the vets she was speaking of?
Shayna Baszler – I think there is some truth to what she was saying, as you have seen some of my contemporaries and myself lose, take Roxanne Modafferi for example. She used to be arguably one of the best female fighters in the world. I don’t think she had a horrible fight, she did very well in the first round but it goes to show that the playing field is a little more even now. As far as myself is concerned, I had a bad loss but I also don’t think that I am aging to the point where I am falling off the wagon yet. The sport among woman is growing to the point where you are seeing more of that happening but if Julianna thinks she can count any of us out of the game then she is mistaken, painfully mistaken.
3. Another week, another near coaches fight. What was the deal between your coach Edmond Tarverdyan and long time veteran Dennis Hallman? Also, did everyone on your team including the coaches generally hate Bryan Caraway?
Shayna Baszler – On the show they (the producers) made it seem like Edmond was just hanging out in the doorway to our locker room looking for trouble but that is not really how that happened… like a lot of things on the show. The whole beef between Edmond and Dennis started at a weigh-in, I am not joking but Team Tate had like 10 coaches for eight fighters on their team, and so Edmond made a joke about how many coaches they had. He was saying stuff like “There is too many cooks in the kitchen” and other nonsense and so Dennis just started mean-mugging him, staring him down and such for the whole weigh-in. As you have seen on the show Edmond doesn’t back down from anyone so they had an intense stare down throughout the weigh-ins. The interaction you saw on TV was what transpired after that and then it shocked everyone when…..
As far as the Caraway hate question goes, all of the coaches on my team hated him for him opening his mouth and basically threatening Ronda on Twitter like a year ago. He really is a nice guy though and he has apologized for it endlessly but I think he would have gotten more respect from those guys if he stood up and said that “Yeah I wish I could punch her teeth out”, if you are going to say something, stand behind it. Whether you like it or not, that is how those guys are and Ronda is just like any other girl. She is going to keep that cataloged and pull it out at anytime, whether it is six years later, to show you guys how you have wronged us in the past.
4. They showed members of Team Tate sparring with the guys against the girls, is that something your team also did in practice?
Shayna Baszler – Yes we did but we didn’t make a special day of it for the cameras, we were running our practices like that everyday from the beginning. That whole thing was weird, with the special coaches meeting to decide to spare and such.
5. Can you give us a breakdown of the Roxanne Modafferi and Jessica Rakoczy fight? and did you think the fight was stopped late?
Shayna Baszler – I think Roxanne was able to do her thing in the first round, she was able to get the takedown but Jessica has a lot of combat sports experience. She had almost 40 boxing fights before she came on the show, making her the most experienced fighter in the house. She had won titles before, she was ranked number one in the world in her weight class, so being in that mental situation (fighting in the UFC/TUF) was not foreign to her. However, you could tell she was still a little green around the edges when it came to her MMA technique, instead of bringing the fight back up standing, she played around in Roxanne’s guard for awhile and it nearly cost her. The coaches yelled at her between rounds and she did much better in round 2 leading up to the knockout. As far as the stoppage went, hindsight is 20/20 and so maybe you could say it was late but when it was live it was bang-bang, I think the second punch after Jessica knocked her down actually woke Roxanne back up. I haven’t heard Roxanne say the stoppage was late, in fact on her blog she gave thanks that the referee gave her every opportunity to continue fighting. So yeah maybe in hindsight you could say it was a late stoppage but no was complaining at the time.
6. So your team finally got it’s first win, what was the team morale and attitude like following Jessica’s win?
Shayna Baszler – Oh man… it was a huge relief. It was a bigger deal than you would think to finally be back in control of the fight match-ups. Our whole team was really tight-knit, so just knowing how much losing to Miesha was irking Ronda, it was really great for all of us that the streak stopped at two and once again our team’s destiny was in our hands. It was a huge weight off all of our shoulders and I think you could see that in the locker room after the fight.
7. What advice did you have for Roxanne after she lost?
Shayna Baszler – You only saw a brief portion on the show last week, immediately after her fight it was more just a hug and some encouraging words. When we got back to the house I told her that “There is still a road that needs to be walked”, Roxanne is a very interesting character (and I mean that in a good way), she is so innocent and how she is portrayed on the show is exactly how she is in real life. She is almost naive but at the same time there is this old school, wise martial artist inside her that just takes over sometimes. So I was trying to talk to that side of her, stuff like this one fight doesn’t define her great career and that being on the show was going to make her career achievements more aware to fans of MMA. I know how difficult it is to be in the house after losing so I was trying to let her know that it isn’t the end and that she had a lot to offer her team even in defeat with all of her knowledge and experience.
8. When this week’s fight between David Grant (Team Rousey) and Louis Fisette (Team Tate) was announced, what did you think of the match-up?
Shayna Baszler – I was really excited to see David fight because he was so intense and locked in during our training sessions. He was so hungry to fight, he was that guy at the gym that no matter how hard you were sparring, he was always going a little harder, he was beating the snot out of everyone at practice. I have never seen anyone that was so happy to fight, all fighters enjoy fighting but when you get close to a fight, a lot of fighters will get crabby, intense or moody but David was excited, it was like a little kid getting ready for his t-ball game with all of his friends. It was really infectious for our whole team and it brought everyone’s energy level up a notch.
9. In past seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, fighters talked about how much free swag they received while in the house (such as clothes, gear, etc.), did you walk away with a big haul?
Shayna Baszler – We got all kinds of Team Rousey stuff, I really could have gone into the house without packing a suitcase because I got more Team Rousey gear than I could even wear. All kinds of clothes, training gear and just regular everyday clothing, my entire training wardrobe and lounging around the house clothes are all Team Rousey now. Everything we got was from the UFC, there wasn’t anything from outside sponsors like in seasons past. In fact, I will keep you guys updated because I am going to be doing some type of auction after the season ends (kickass autographed swag and such).
Keep your horns up and Ricardo, let’s keep the marriage proposals on the down low until the end of the season. 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 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.