by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
It’s been nearly a year since MMA fans last saw Shayna “Queen of Spades” Baszler in the cage.

Following a devastating loss to Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos last July for the no longer existent EliteXC promotion, Baszler took a step to the side attending to the business of life, putting the sport on the back burner.

Having gained new perspective on things, she now returns to fighting with a refreshed sense of vigor, eager to prove herself once again, starting with this Friday’s ShoMMA: Strikeforce Challengers Series event against rising female star Sarah Kaufman.

“I’m really excited and am looking forward to it,” elated Baszler to MMAWeekly.com recently. “I’m really relaxed. I’ve been having a good time in training and everything.

“My attitude mentally overall is a lot better going in this time – it’s the best in a really long time, actually.”

Aside from playing video games and her guitar for relaxation, when Baszler decided to get back to the fight game, she stepped up her training routines, adding a new conditioning program along with new techniques to her skill set.

“Josh (Barnett) put me on a weight lifting program to add some muscle mass, and I’m going to be a lot leaner this fight,” stated Baszler. “On top of that, I’ve had to be a student again and go in and learn things I didn’t know anything about; playing around with some judo and boxing stuff.

“I think I’m going to bring a lot of things that are really unexpected this fight.”

Stepping back into the cage competitively for the first time in nearly a year, Baszler faces no small task in Canadian standout Kaufman, who’s been making quite a name for herself stateside lately.

“I think Sarah Kaufman is a perfect return match for me,” she exclaimed. “She’s not a ‘gimme’ opponent, not an easy opponent, she’s one of the best in the 135 (division).

“On top of that I think it’s great she had that fight with Miesha Tate not too long ago that was televised, because people saw how good she is and solid her game is – it will make my win that much more exciting and that much more relevant to people.”

Her confidence is further aided by the fact that when Kaufman had problems with Tate in the second round of their fight last May, it was on the ground, where Baszler’s skills differ greatly from Tate’s.

“Miesha’s game is more hold them down and ground and pound from on top,” commented Baszler. “I think my game on the ground is based on finishing someone as much as I can.

“You’re going to see me really damaging when it hits the ground. Whether I’m beating the snot out of her, or attacking a limb, she’s going to be all defensive when it hits the ground.”

Now that she’s back in the game full time, Baszler wants to stay busy and be a big part of Strikeforce’s growing promotion as it makes its way towards mainstream success in the coming year.

“I want to get in three or four fights over the next 12 months,” she said. “After this particular fight I’m going to take some time and get some things taken care of, but now that we’re back on Showtime and will be on a (major) network, I don’t want to miss the boat on any of that.”

As women’s MMA once again finds itself stepping back into the spotlight, opportunities abound for those who can rise above the pack, and Baszler looks to be one of those breakout stars.

“I need to thank Room 101, Lethal Performance, Hitman Fight Gear, ESP, Bolt Thrower and Rokk Clothing,” closed out Baszler. “Rokk is actually making a Queen of Spades shirt at BringTheRokk.com that people will be able to get pretty soon.

“To the fans that have stuck by me and still believe, we’re still going to reign at the top. Friday is going to be a fight that people talk about forever.”