During the initial period of her MMA training, Shayna Baszler also wanted to incorporate catch wrestling into her training alongside Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. However, she could not train under Josh Barnett under who she wished to train, as she could not travel to Southern California where Barnett’s training centre is located. At her request, he created a syllabus for her as well as a video on catch wrestling.
It was also Barnett who gave her the suggestion to carry an electric guitar to the cage to demonstrate that she was outspoken. The gimmick helped her to project herself as a rock star-type personality.
Besides ‘The Queen of Spades’, she has also been dubbed as the “submission magician” due to her extended arsenal of submission manoeuvres. She refers to her fans as “Queen’s Army”
Baszler got her start in MMA at South Dakota-based promotion Reality Cage Fighting against Tina Johnson on October 31, 2003. After winning that, she also came out victorious in her next match, which was against Christy Zimmerman on November 14, 2003. However, she suffered her first defeat against Kelly Kobold in the match after that, which took place on May 15, 2004.
In 2005, she fought for Jungle Madness 2 and won her match against Heather Lobs. For the next three years, she competed at various other independent promotions, including UCS, Ring of Fire, Freestyle Combat Challenge, MFC, Bodogfight, and NFF, winning against Cindy Romero, Julie Kedzie, Roxanne Modafferi, and Samantha Anderson, and losing to Amanda Buckner twice.
She first appeared for EliteXC at a ShoXC event on July 27, 2007, submitting fellow debutant for the promotion, Jan Finney, with an armbar in the first round. She went on register wins against Jennifer Tate within 0.44 seconds in the first round and Keiko Tamai by making her submit with an exceptional twister, also in the first round. After she promoted to the main EliteXC’s cards, she suffered a crushing defeat against Cris Cyborg at the promotion’s Unfinished Business event on July 26, 2008.
EliteXC’s parent company Pro Elite folded in October 2008 and Baszler briefly found a place on Strikeforce’s roster. On June 19, 2009, she faced Sarah Kaufman, losing the match by a unanimous decision. She then participated in the Freestyle Cage Fighting Women's Bantamweight Grand Prix at FCF 39, and eventually won the championship. She successively defeated Megumi Yabushita, Alexis Davis, and Adrienna Jenkins.
During this period, several of her matches, including her rematch against Finney, got cancelled, but her match against Elaina Maxwell did end up occurring at The Cage Inc.: Battle At The Border 7 event. Baszler won the bout and in effect, became the inaugural TCI Women's 140 lbs Champion.
She put on a ferocious performance against Sara McMann in the main event of Invicta FC 2: Baszler vs. McMann on July 28, 2012. Although a losing effort on her part, the bout was picked as the Fight of the Night. Baszler triumphed over Sarah D'Alelio in her next match but lost to Alexis Davis in her third and final outing for Invicta. This one too received the Fight of the Night accolade.
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In August 2013, she was picked as one of the contestants for The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate. She defeated Colleen Schneider via an armbar submission to enter the TUF house. She was chosen by Rousey and fought Julianna Peña in the first match of the season. She lost and was eliminated from the competition.
She would have two more matches in the UFC, against Bethe Correia and Amanda Nunes, losing both. After being released by the promotion, she lost to Reina Miura in her latest outing inside an MMA ring.
In 2015, Baszler made the transition to professional wrestling and went back to train under Barnett. She made her in-ring debut against Cheerleader Melissa at a Quintessential Pro Wrestling (QPG) event on September 26, 2015. She subsequently wrestled for Magnum Pro Wrestling, Absolute Intense Wrestling (AIW), Shimmer Women Athletes, DDT Pro-Wrestling, and the Japanese promotion World Wonder Ring Stardom.
Taking the next logical step in her career, she tried out for WWE sometime in late 2016. She competed in WWE's Mae Young Classic, winning back-to-back matches against Mia Yim, Candice LeRae, Mercedes Martinez, and as a heel character, made it to the finals where she lost to Kairi Sane.
On August 10, 2017, she first appeared in an NXT house show. Two months later, on October 10, WWE revealed that Baszler had signed with them and was training at the WWE’s Performance Center.
Awards & Achievements
As a mixed martial artist, Shayna Baszler won the Freestyle Cage Fighting Women’s Bantamweight Grand Prix Championship on June 12, 2010.
She became The Cage Inc. Women's 140 lbs Champion on November 19, 2010.
As a professional wrestler, she clenched DDT Pro-Wrestling’s Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship on April 1, 2017.
She is the current holder of the AIW Women's Championship.
Baszler was ranked 12th on the Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s list of the top 50 female singles wrestlers in the PWI Female 50 in 2017.