This weekend at UFC 177, Shayna Baszler is scheduled to make her professional UFC debut against undefeated Brazilian prospect Bethe “Pitbull” Correia. The two were scheduled to square off at UFC 176 until that event was canceled.
While the women’s division has been in the UFC for a little over a year – president Dana White calls putting females in the octagon the best decision he’s ever made – Baszler, who is considered one of the pioneers of female mixed martial arts, was scheduled to face Sarah Kaufman at “The Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale” until an injury forced her to pull out of the fight.
Baszler, or the “Queen of Spades,” has spent the last 11 years clawing and scraping her way to get an opportunity like this. Along the way she’s fought – and in a lot of cases beaten – a who’s who of female fighters including Roxanne Modafferi, Tara LaRosa, Sarah Kaufman, Sara McMann, Julie Kedzie and Alexis Davis – all of whom have some experience in the octagon one way or another.
Baszler has some experience in a UFC cage. She competed on “The Ultimate Fighter 18“ as a member of Team Rousey. She was eliminated in the first round by the show’s winner Julianna Pena. Competing on the show isn’t necessarily something she had to – fans figured she would be eventually signed by the UFC – but it was an opportunity that not only benefited her career-wise, but also exposed her to a new audience.
Since then then she’s made headlines by becoming a member of a group known as “The Four Horsewomen” – a take off the iconic NWA and WCW wrestling stable – alongside UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and prospects Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir.
Although she spends a lot of her time, cornering, training and casually hanging out her stable, Baszler is digging deep to prepare for this fight. She’s training with long-time coach and fellow catch wrestler Josh Barnett. She’s also sparring with Kaitlin Young, one of the hardest hitters in MMA. Baszler’s catch wrestling and grappling skills should be a good match for Correia’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
Correia will come in with some momentum after beating Duke earlier this year, labeling herself as the one to takedown the Four Horsewomen. However, Baszler have her own motivation going into the fight and will surely want to get revenge for Duke. I’m sure the Queen will also have the Sacramento crowd on her side for this fight.
Baszler’s last professional fight was in 2013 where Davis submitted her in the third round of their rematch. Critics may look at this and the loss to Pena – while ignoring Baszler’s victory over Colleen Schneider to get into the “TUF” house – as signs of her career being on the decline.
But time away from the cage heals all wounds and injuries. Maybe this Saturday we’ll get to see the rebirth of the Queen of Spades.
Which female fighter would you like to see compete in the octagon? Answer with a comment below or send a tweet to @cagepagesfs.