I am very excited. It’s some people’s lifelong dream to go to ADCC World Championships and I’m doing it as a blue-belt. I will get to take part AND watch the best in the world go at it. No matter how it pans out, this is good fun for me!!Shayna Baszler has been competing in MMA since the fall of 2003 and has compiled an impressive 5-2 record, while facing only elite level competition in that time. However, her latest and possibly highest level achievements have come in the world of sport jiu-jitsu and submission grappling, which includes an impressive showing in the Women’s Middleweight division at the ADCC North American Trials in October. As this exciting Machado-based grappling super-star prepares to make an even bigger name for herself at the pinnacle of competitive submission grappling this weekend at the ADCC World Championships, OTM was able to sit down with her to get her thoughts on the ADCC, as well as her views on MMA, jiu-jitsu, training, women in the sport, and the continuing growth of the sport in smaller areas of the country.
Bevois: You’re originally from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the same state as The Ultimate Fighter 4 champion Travis Lutter and The Ultimate Fighter 3 veteran Noah Inhofer. How does one get interested in jiu-jitsu and MMA growing up in the Black Hills of South Dakota? Shayna: Wrestling is very strong in this state as it is with the entire Midwest and it’s just a natural crossover to learn submissions beyond college. And honestly, on my half of the state, it’s all farmland, there’s not much more for us to do.
Bevois: Speaking of Inhofer, his sister Marissa Inhofer, just fought and won at the same New Fight Films MMA event as you on March 10th up in Minnesota. At that event you scored your second consecutive kimura submission victory. Do you think you might want to match your grappling skills up against Gina Carano’s striking ability in a future MMA event? Shayna: I would be honored to fight Gina Carano. It’s not something I’m out there seeking, necessarily, but if the opportunity ever came up, I would be game.
Bevois: What is your rank and how long have you been training jiu-jitsu and submission grappling? Shayna: I am a 4th degree blue-belt and have been training for approximately 4 years.
Bevois: Where have you trained and who have been your primary instructors? Shayna: Amilicar Cipili (a Rigan Machado black-belt) out of Las Vegas, Nevada and Aaron Hullinger (a Rigan Machado brown-belt) here in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Bevois: What got you interested in participating in a heavily male dominated sport? Shayna: I liked the fact that I could get on the mat and be physically inferior, not as strong, not as big, and still be able to take some of these guys. And I liked that I could train this full speed so if the situation ever arose, I knew exactly what it was like to do something with 100% resistance. Like some self defense classes, people walk out of there never having done the stuff they “learned” for real. If the situation ever arose for them, they would crumble and be lost. Not me.
Bevois: Are you able to beat up your boyfriend and/or brothers? Shayna: All the guys I’ve dated THINK they can take me, but they soon learn otherwise…..just kidding. Most of the guys I’ve dated think it’s cool. I’ve hung out with guys that think they know what’s up and try to give me advice, but that about ends it for me right there. So most guys I date are in the know enough to be able to at least hold their own against me and make it interesting….haha. No brothers, just a sister, and I’ve been beating up on her for 22 years or so.
Bevois: Do you think that as jiu-jitsu and submission grappling continue to grow with women such as yourself succeeding on a world stage, that we should be expecting more and more women training and competing in the future? Shayna: Absolutely. I look at where it was when even I first started following the sport and it’s even riper for it now. Exponentially, this is gonna blow up, I think.
Bevois: When you’re not training jiu-jitsu, what things do you enjoy doing? Shayna: I’m a video game nerd, so I am on the Wii a lot. I also love music. I play the guitar and cello. I study street magic as a hobby as well. Yeah, basically I’m an all around nerd.
Bevois: On December 9, 2006, at the GQ-West 5-on-5 Team challenge, I saw you submit a very scrappy Andrea Bermudez via a “twister” spinal lock. I was sitting next to Eddie “The Twister” Bravo when it happened and he was very impressed. Is that one of your favorite or most effective submissions? Shayna: I love that submission because it’s something people don’t believe will work very often. Like anything, you have to play with it to make it effective in your own game, but yes, it is definitely one of my favorites. The series (the twister leads to another sub that leads to another sub that leads to another and back again…) I feel is pretty successful for me.
Bevois: Each team that day had one female representative go first and your win was the lone win for Team Mica vs. Team Laimon in the first round. How did it feel breaking up the sweep and getting the first win of the day? Shayna: It felt really great at the time. I really felt that a submission, and it being a twister, was really gonna set the pace for our team. We had a good team out there, better than what we showed. It sounds like something everyone would say, but we had a really off day. It was Cobra Kai’s day. They were just very on that day.
Bevois: How excited are you about competing at the 2007 ADCC World Championships, which takes place May 4th-6th, 2007 at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, New Jersey – USA? Shayna: I am very excited. It’s some people’s lifelong dream to go to ADCC World Championships and I’m doing it as a blue-belt. I will get to take part AND watch the best in the world go at it. No matter how it pans out, this is good fun for me!!
Bevois: Who do you see as some of your top competition within your division? Shayna: I really think Kelly Paul is the one to watch for in my division. She is not only incredibly strong, but technical as well, that’s always a difficult combination.
Bevois: Should we expect to see you rocking your ever-popular braided corn rows? Shayna: Most definitely. Corn rows and the twister, the two things people remember me by.
Bevois: Overall, who do you look forward to seeing compete in the Men’s divisions? Shayna: I am really looking forward to the 76 and under men’s category. Every guy in that bracket is exciting and fun to watch. I am also looking forward to seeing Leo Viera. He has a very exciting style that appeals to me. Heck, every one of those divisions is stacked; I’m pumped to even be going!
Bevois: Do you have any plans of competing at the OTM Jiu-Jitsu Championships and the Mundial World Championships, which will both be held in Long Beach, CA this summer? Shayna: I hope to hit Mundials for sure. I figure I better take advantage since they are in the US this year. I really want to do the OTM tourney, but living in South Dakota means it costs lots of money to travel to tourneys. We’ll see. Bevois: You own an armbar submission win in MMA over Julie Kedzie who Gina Carano just fought in the first ever MMA event shown on Showtime. Do you plan on concentrating more heavily on your MMA career after the ADCC? Shayna: I am always looking at advancing my MMA career. That is something I love and want to do while I’m young enough for my body to hold up.
Bevois: Who are some of your favorite MMA fighters to watch compete? Shayna: I think, of course, Fedor and GSP, but just so I don’t sound cliché I will say I also enjoy watching Babalu, Karo Parysian is fun to watch with all his throws, and I really like the little guys, Sherk, Pulver, BJ Penn, the lightweights are all exciting. As far as females, I would have to say, Amanda Buckner is someone I really look up to. Her technique is something I aspire to attain.
Bevois: How often do you visit OnTheMat.com or watch OTM videos to help your game? Shayna: Honest to God, I could spend an entire day off of work on the OTM website just watching videos. OnTheMat.com is responsible for LOTS of my work not getting done on time…..
Bevois: Who are your current sponsors that have helped support you along the way? Shayna: On The Mat (www.onthemat.com) has been a big help to me for this tournament! I would also like to thank ActionMMA, Justin Widmer of Bracco, and BJJRadio.com.
Bevois: Is there anything else you’d like to say or anyone else you’d like to thank before we finish this up? Shayna: I just want to say thanks to all the guys that beat me up on a daily basis, Bruce for being the best jiu-jitsu buddy a person could have, to Aaron Hullinger for giving me this opportunity in an area of the US where I otherwise wouldn’t, and Mica for all of his support and help in improving my game.