Headlining Invicta FC 2, Shayna Baszler’s Gut Check is Paying Dividends

Shayna BaszlerAfter two years away from fighting, former Strikeforce women’s 135-pound fighter Shayna “Queen of Spades” Baszler is eager to return to action.

As she told MMAWeekly.com, “I’ve got a good program right now and I feel really good about my training. Maybe it’s because I’m hungry since it’s been so long since I last fought.”

Since leaving Strikeforce in 2009, Baszler has won four straight fights, which she gives a lot of credit to her coach and fellow MMA fighter Josh Barnett.

“After my loss to Sarah (Kaufman), he kicked everyone out in the locker room and chewed me out like a good coach should,” she said. “He was telling me I basically needed to figure something out and that I needed to realize if this was something I wanted to do or not.

“I had a little gut check, and ultimately I grew up as far as my MMA mentality and am more mature now.”

Working with Barnett has added a level of physicality to Baszler’s game she felt she didn’t have before.

“If you look at my fights before I worked with Josh, it was more finesse and fancy. Then if you look at my first fight with Josh which was my Jan Finney fight, you can tell I’m a lot more physical and I’m the one pushing the pace instead of letting the other person determine that,” she said.

“I’m being more physical and aggressive, while at the same time I’m not being overwhelmed by strong fighters like Sara McMann.”

And it’s McMann that Baszler has firmly in her sights on Saturday night in Kansas City, Kan., when the two headline the second edition of Invicta FC in what could very well turn into a 135-pound title eliminator.

“First of all, I think that Sara and I have a lot of respect for each other and have competed against each other many times,” said Baszler. “She’s a great athlete and has a skill set that translates well to MMA, but I think I have a real advantage in the fight with my X-factor – meaning my ability to finish a fight.

“For her to win this fight, she has to grind it out and hope it works for 15 minutes straight; all I need is something of mine to work once. She has to work the entire time; and me, I can fail, fail, fail and not have anything work until – boom – it works one time and the fight is mine.”

Baszler feels that Invicta’s mission and her career goals mesh perfectly, and she couldn’t be happier with a promotion.

“It’s not the first time women’s MMA has been on the forefront, that there’s been an all-women show, but it’s the first time where it’s been done where they are building divisions and a future,” she said. “Instead of spacing the division around one star, they’re building an entire division, and you can see it in the match-ups, because nobody has a gimme fight.

“Because I’ve been around the MMA block a little bit, I’m at a point now where I just want bodies to beat up. I’m past the point in my career where I’m picking and choosing. I have good opportunities now in my weight class. I’m going to be just as entertaining as before, but I’ve got some new things up my sleeve as always.”

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