By now, you probably know (or have heard from an outside, spoilery source) that Julianna Pena scored a massive upset over Shayna Baszler in yesterday’s episode of The Ultimate Fighter 18, choking out the WMMA pioneer in the second round of their scrap. The shocking victory was made all the more impressive by the fact that everyone in the TUF house, every assistant coach, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Dana White, cameramen 1-3, the Mayor of Television, 4 out of 5 dentists, Bono and the Duke of Lacrosse Team knew that Baszler was all but a lock to win the season, let alone some preliminary fight against a 4-2 nobody.
But no one believed that Shayna Baszler was fighting a certified tomato can more than Shayna Baszler. If that sounds like an insult, it isn’t. The fact is, Baszler was only setting herself up for disappointment with her weigh-in card tricks and chest-puffing statements like “[Pena] doesn’t deserve to be in the same ring with me. She should be coming to my seminars and learning.” Well it looks like THE THUDENT HATH BECOME THE TEACHER, THAYNA. (Ed note: Apologies, I sometime write with a lisp.)
In any case, other MMA websites who aren’t CagePotato were able to secure exclusive access to both Pena’s and Baszler’s TUF 18 blogs (or at least, that’s what we keep telling ourselves) and have passed along their thoughts on what was surely an emotional week on the show for both fighters. Which is where we come in: To highlight the most interesting blurbs from said blogs and punctuate them with the occasional fart joke. God I love my job.
We shall begin with Ms. Baszler’s blog, the somewhat pretentiously titled “Queen’s Manifesto” (courtesy of TheMMACorner). Not only is it the more personal blog of the two, but it also showcases the delusional and often contradictory lengths at which a fighter must sometimes go to justify a loss:
The first day of practice would be a dream for many hardcore fans of WMMA: Ronda and I just rolling. I had mentioned earlier how I was worried about Ronda and I both having strong personalities. We could very well clash. And both of us being proud people, both of us probably knowing that many in the WMMA community were begging for us to fight, I had some concern about training together getting overly competitive. Maybe she would want to show me exactly who she was, which I would definitely try to not let her get away with. But, as it turns out, Ronda is as secure with herself as I am. Zero ego. We rolled, we sparred, we trained. No one-upping, no pissing contest. Training. Two of the best females in the world just training together. It was awesome. And spoke again of her character to me.
Many out there believe I shouldn’t have had to do this show. That the UFC should already have signed me. That, in some ways (and I hope my Team Rousey family understands I mean no disrespect in saying this—love you guys), I was better than all this. And in some ways, Ronda treated me as such, like a comrade and not a “student.” It was a relief.
You gotta love it when someone who spoke of herself in the third person when originally discussing the matchup, handed out a “death card” to her opponent at the weigh-ins and alluded to the fact that she was “better than all this” claims to have zero ego in hindsight. No offense, Ms. Baszler, but you most certainly have an ego if you think a fellow contestant should be attending your seminars.
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…
Well clearly, this paragraph was written with no other purpose in mind than hurting my feelings. My nickname at the gym, after all, is “That Kid With Two Speeds And Both Of Them Suck.” I don’t know why they just can’t call me by my much shorter, actual name, but I digress.
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 retract my previous statement about Baszler having an ego. Anyone who refers to him/herself in the fifth person surely has their ego in check. “The Queen of Spades would like to know if you foolish mortals accept checks on delivery for a set of the eggplant forkchops.”
I had no idea Ronda took it so hard when I lost until I watched the show. Manny Gamburyan told me every day until the end of the season that I broke all their hearts that day. But to see Ronda so bothered, and then shouldering the responsibility…in the end, the part that sucks the most was disappointing all of them. They truly believed in me. And why shouldn’t they? I am one of the best in the world, the contract gift-wrapped for me. And I just let someone grab it. Disappointing the coaches is something I wish didn’t happen. Their confidence in me…it’s just a big ouch.
So, the fight picks happened. Team Tate picking off our injured guy, like expected. But, in what is the act that sealed my loyalty to Ronda, she walked up to Miesha and said what she did about how she was going to beat her up even more for celebrating in my loss. Now, Miesha and I have always been friendly. And whether she meant it as offense towards me or not, Ronda took it that way. For Ronda to have my back like that…I dunno. Loyalty is something that has become one of the most important things in the measure of a human in my eyes. The fact that I had just let her down, she knows I am gunning for her belt one day…but she still had my back. It spoke volumes to me.
As BG pointed out in his recap of episode 2, there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding on Team Rousey regarding the difference between celebrating your fighter’s win and “smiling at someone’s pain.” Using Cat Zingano’s face to stand up was one thing, but Tate celebrating her close friend’s massive upset over an extremely cocky favorite didn’t exactly strike any of us as disrespectful. Just because Rousey needed to have a good cry over a disappointing loss doesn’t mean that anyone else — let alone the coach of the winning team – should have to do the same.
Now let’s take a look at Pena’s blog (courtesy of MMAFighting), shall we? Spoiler alert: It is much more straightforward and will require far less of my groundbreaking insight.