Shayna Baszler’s stint on “The Ultimate Fighter” didn’t work out like she wanted, but she’ll have a chance to solidify her position in the UFC women’s bantamweight division when she meets Sarah Kaufman April 16 at UFC Fight Night 41.
Ahead of the matchup, Baszler joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show to discuss having someone to train for, Julianna Pena and more.
On whether she feels pressure to perform against Kaufman: “The pressure hasn’t hit me yet. It’s more excitement. I was sidelined with an injury on the finale for our season, and that’s why I couldn’t fight on it. It’s been almost six months that I’ve been training and not able to go 100 percent, not able to plan for a fight. Anybody out there that trains knows how hard it is to just grind it out every day just for the sake of that’s what you do. It’s actually kind of a relief right now. I’m still excited about it, having a face to think about when I’m training, having specific things to drill and work on now. The pressure hasn’t hit me; that probably won’t hit me until the camp starts making me angry and all that. I’m just excited.”
On making her UFC debut: “I’m one of the few -- two or three -- in women’s MMA that was active during the days when you signed up at the door and there was no weight class. They just matched you up with the other girl that happened to sign up -- at a bar in Minnesota. Now I’m still active and fighting on the biggest stage available in our sport, not just the biggest stage available to women. I don’t have to say that anymore. This is the biggest stage available to our sport and I’m fighting. To sit back and think that I’ve been doing this that long and to see how far I’ve come, it’s pretty amazing.”
On losing to Pena on TUF: “I’m going to get so much hate for saying this, but the best guy does not always win the fight in MMA. That’s, I think, the most frustrating part about losing, for me. Not the fact that I lost. I’ve been a competitor in sports my whole life. I know losing. I know all that. It’s that for some reason, fighting is very carnal to our nature and until your next fight, that person is superior to you in every way because they had their day that day. It’s just something you’ve got to put up with. It’s frustrating. … That’s the frustrating part is that all people remember right now is that I lost to Julianna. They have no idea about all these wars and battles. It’s not like I’ve been on some downslide. It’s not like I’m this aging vet that should retire. I just had a bad day that day, and people don’t get that. That’s the worst part, I guess.”
On haters: “People that really are hating on me don’t understand that they’re actually feeding the machine. One of the major reasons I think I’m getting a shot in the UFC is because so many people hated me. … That’s the exact reason I’m going to be in the UFC. I understand being relevant and how important that is.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 31:48).