Women's MMA has come a long way in the last few years. We have seen the rise of some legitimate stars, and seen the departure of one of the most recognizable faces, Gina Carano. Now, Invicta FC has come along and given us an entire promotion dedicated to the women. Their sophomore effort goes down on July 28, and the main event features two stellar fighters, Shayna Baszler vs. Sara McMann. Baszler has been a staple in MMA for the past nine years, and McMann is a former Olympian. In a recent TapouT Radio interview, Shayna discussed her upcoming bout, and gave her thoughts on Strikeforce 135 pound champion, Ronda Rousey.
*Note: Interviewer is either my co-host, Evan Shoman of TapouT Radio, or myself. When I don't conduct these interviews by myself, I just put "Interviewer" to eliminate having to bounce back and forth between three different names.
Interviewer: You were on a four fight win streak, and then sort of fell off the map for almost two years due to advancing your education. How does it feel to be able to not only get back in there, but to be the main event?
Shayna Baszler: My win streak is almost Sara McMann's entire fight career. I know I've had some time off, but I'm being totally serious when I say this, this has been my best camp ever. I'm still a ways out, so maybe I'm just not in that crabby phase yet, but I'm pumped. I'm pumped like I was back when I first started fighting. It's going to be good, and I'm excited.
Interviewer: Where are you training and who's at your camp? Will Josh Barnett be in your corner?
Shayna Baszler: Oh yeah, Josh will be in my corner, as well as a guy from my training camp, and another guy that's cornered with Josh for me before. I've been doing my training camp here in Sioux Falls, training with a guy at my gym where I live, and I've been mixing that in with going to some wrestling practices at Augustana College, which is one of the best wrestling schools in the US. They just throw me in there, and it's real deal wrestling practice, so I get beat up.
I do my strength and conditioning with Horsepower S&C, which is up in Minneapolis. The coach there, Matt Miller, works with Kaitlyn Young and those fighters out of the academy there. I did some Olympic lifting competitions when I was in college, so he's put together some of my programming with that in mind.
I talk to Josh Barnett all the time, and we discuss strategy and things. I hope to get out there to CSW soon to get some training in.
Interviewer: You and Josh came to an understanding after the Sarah Kaufman fight that if you were going to work with him, you were going to follow the game plan and his advice. Going into this fight, with everything having changed all around you, and being in a different location, how do you feel about game plans and following Josh's instruction?
Shayna Baszler: I think the big thing for me is maturity. What I mean by that is that it wasn't that we weren't on the same page when he was screaming at me, it was that my head was just gone. At the point in the fight when I went off the map of the game plan we had put together, I just can't explain it any other way than my head was gone. He was talking to me in between rounds and I don't even remember what he was telling me. For lack of a better way to say it, I'm just old now.
It's a fight. It's not that serious. I'm not going off to war. I'm not toting a gun around with a chance of not going home. I'm coming home. I'm just going in there to beat the crap out of someone. It's not that serious. I think now it's "I've been there and done that" and now I'm ready to go. I've paid my dues. I'm ready to own everything that I'm supposed to own now. Something changed in my brain, and I'm ready to rule the world like I should.
Interviewer: Do you feel that your experience is more important or valuable than Sara's wrestling pedigree?
Shayna Baszler: I think that she's competed at a high enough level where that experience won't really carry that much weight here. The thing that I have, is that I've been on the losing end of the stick. I know what it's like when my game plan isn't working, and now what do I do? I know what being held down and beaten till I looked like Sloth from The Goonies feels like. None of that scares me. Nobody's put her in that spot yet. Nobody has really put her in trouble, to be honest with you. I don't think anyone she's fought has had the head to stick to a game plan and overcome the fact that she's riding out points on them and they're losing the fight on the score cards.
I should be getting paid twice as much as her because it's going to be on my shoulders to make this fight interesting for fans. She's not going to submit me. She ain't knocking anybody out. She's gonna have to lay on me, and that's boring as all get out. It's going to be up to me to do stuff and to stop her from laying on top of me and winning a decision.
Interviewer: What are your thoughts on Ronda Rousey's impact on WMMA?
Shayna Baszler: It's frustrating that she is one of the people that I have had to watch get opportunities that I feel that I have worked harder for and paid dues for. Ronda Rousey is cocky and brash and she talks a lot of sh*t and she says things that piss me off and she says things that make me want to smack her if I ever see her, but I love it. I love the heel role. I'm a student of Josh Barnett's, so the showmanship and the character is very important to a sport like this, and she does it so well. What she's doing is giving people something to love or hate, and I think that's awesome. People are talking about women's MMA now, so as a fan, I love what she's doing. I love that I hate her.
I have to put my little disclaimer out there. I've never met her, so I don't know if we would get along or not. I'm strictly talking Ronda Rousey, the character. I love and hate that character. People that know me, know that I follow pro wrestling, and I love the bad guys. I like the heels. I like Darth Vader and the bad guys.
Interviewer: Are you active in anything else besides MMA currently?
Shayna Baszler: Actually, I am. I'm the strength and conditioning coach for the local roller derby league here. I've been working with them for a while. These girls have amazing talent and athletic ability.
Interviewer: Could you see yourself being a roller derby girl at some point?
Shayna Baszler: I have trained with then on the track, but I see myself more as the head coach than anything else. I'll be the coach that's screaming from the bench, and going crazy [laughs]. I've gotten quite a following from the roller derby circuit, so there will probably be quite a few of them at my fight. I'm pretty stoked about it.
Follow Shayna via her Twitter, @QOSBaszler