Shayna Baszler: I don’t like Julianna Pena
With a decade of professional experience vs. fighters like Cristiane Cyborg, Sarah D’Alelio, Tara LaRosa, Justino, Sarah Kaufman, Julie Kedzie, Roxanne Modafferi, and Sara McMann, a brown belt in BJJ, years of training in Catch Wrestling with Josh Barnett, and TWO wins via Twister, Shayna Baszler was the odds on favorite to win TUF 18.
“I’m not gonna lose to her,” Baszler said before the fight. “She doesn’t deserve to be in the same ring with me. She should be coming to my seminars and learning.”
During Wednesday’s episode ‘The Queen of Spades’ lost to the unheralded Julianna Pena, who was herself coming off two consecutive losses.
In a blog at The MMA Corner, excerpted below, Bayszler covers what she thinks of Pena, plus the relationship with Ronda Rousey, what it is like to fight in the TUF warehouse, and more.
I want to first say, I knew nothing of Julianna Pena and the way she fights except for what I saw during the elimination fights. I knew she had been armbarred by Sarah Moras. I knew she was a suck-up trying to play both sides. She will tell you that she told Ronda Rousey that she wanted to be picked by her before she knew Miesha Tate was going to be there. I hope at least that the people in the Queen’s Army are smart enough to put together that we had no contact with the coaches until after we saw both of them there when they called us in for Dana White’s epic speech that first day. She knew Miesha was a coach before she tried to convince Ronda she wanted to be picked. Another thing I like about Ronda: she’s too smart for that. She didn’t fall for it. But that’s Ronda. It spoke to me of both her and Juliana’s character from the get-go.
I think it could go without saying, but I don’t like Julianna. Many of the girls in the elimination fights knew her and didn’t like her. I didn’t know her, so I generally gave her the benefit of the doubt. She did not win me over. She tries too hard to get people to like her, exploits herself in all the wrong ways, and too easily turns her back on her friends. I don’t know how she will come across as the season goes on, but like I said, I believe at least the Queen’s Army won’t be blinded. All the others, f— ‘em. All that being said, one other thing about Juliana: the girl doesn’t stop. She keeps scrapping.
I was never, at any point in the week leading up to the fight, ever nervous. Not even a little. Technique, skill set, all of it—she had nothing for me. As it turns out, in retrospect, one of the things that many might believe to be an advantage was probably my biggest disadvantage going into this fight. I couldn’t get up for the fight.
I can’t explain to you the odd feeling it is to walk out to fight in the UFC gym. There is no one there but the 14 people on the show and a smattering of special guests that Dana or the UFC invited in to watch. There is no music, no uproarious cheering, no screaming voices, no one yelling or chanting…it was a glorified sparring session to me. I have fought for some of the biggest shows and venues that have been available to women. I have been on network television, pay-per-views and streamed events. I have fought the biggest names that my division has to offer. I never feel pressure at those things; I feel energized. So it’s hard when I am stepping into a cage that I train in twice a day, in a small warehouse that I train in twice a day, and think of it as the most important fight I have had to date. I mean, I knew in my head that it was, but my body, my heart…this was me showing up in the gym to spar. And you know what happened? I completely kicked her ass the first round. Period. But then, when she came out the second and fought for her life, I did not.
You know how when you go to the gym and spar, there’s always that guy? Maybe he’s a new guy, maybe he’s just that guy that only has two speeds, but he always ends up going way too hard. You know him. Every gym has him. Maybe if you were in 100 percent fight mode, you would whoop his ass. But it’s just sparring, and you know this. That is the same feeling I had when Julianna came out round two. Never felt this way before. She fought for her life, and I just wanted to hold her down and put my finger on her mouth and whisper, “Shhhhhh…” I knew she was spazzing and fighting balls out. So I checked out. “Shit. I will just get her next round.” And it was too late…
Julianna showed up that day and fought for her life. I didn’t. Bottom line. Like her or not, she fought for her life at a time when I felt she didn’t even deserve to be in the cage with me. I still to this day say 99 out of 100 times, I win this fight. She just happened to do whatever it took to have her 1/100 happen on that day. The most frustrating part of all of this being that all the new fans of WMMA and of the QoS will only hate because I was so confident going into this fight, it comes off as arrogant. Julianna Pena is not better than the Queen of Spades. But many will believe it after this…foolish mortals.
I was devastated. Over 11 years of work. Of fighting for gas money. And here it is, what I finally deserve. And I couldn’t get up??? WTF? It’s over. My shot. I still say I was the best female in that house. And for whatever reason, I didn’t fight like it. Watch it again, people. I had zero urgency. And I would pay for that by losing to arguably the girl with the least amount of technique in the house. If there’s one thing that all of you in the Queen’s Army should take from this, it’s how far the need to fight for your life can take you. And nothing can really make you feel better during a time like this. Of course, there’s a long season left. And anything can happen, and I should stay ready…but none of that helps the way you feel right then after the fight in the locker room.