So, people have been asking and wondering: what was the mood of the team after going 0-2?

Were we down? Were we resigned?

You’ve seen it in other team sports (me especially, being a lifetime Minnesota Vikings fan, haha). A team is so used to losing, they don’t fight anymore. They resign themselves and almost let the losses happen because it was “supposed” to happen. Well, that wasn’t us.

After the initial sadness of Beal losing, we were more fired up than ever. We were giving inspirational speeches and rallying even more than we had been. I wish they had shown more of that after Beal’s fight, but I guess I can see why they would skip it. No need. And hearing Louis Fisette and some of their team talk about how relaxed they were and how our team was falling apart is laughable, especially after last week’s episode where you start to see the team dissension happen with them. Our team was tighter than ever.

We pretty much expected Team Tate would call out Jessica Rakoczy, who had a hurt shoulder and didn’t really seem to care to hide that too much. I found out later that she really did keep just how bad that injury was hurting her from all of us, but that didn’t matter either way. Team Tate was obviously picking our injured guys first. And why wouldn’t they do everything they could to ensure wins? We were ready for it.

They really make it seem like Edmond Tarverdyan is randomly being a douchebag and mean mugging Dennis Hallman out of the blue. As all things in reality TV, this isn’t the whole story. As you will all recall, if you light Edmond’s fuse, the bomb at the other end is a big one. Team Tate knew this. I don’t want to get into all the whys of how we heard it being talked about, and I’m sure that the haters will point at this paragraph and say I am making up a bunch of stuff and whatnot, but whatever. Team Tate brought Hallman in to egg Edmond on. Period. From the second Hallman got there, he was fronting Edmond. A brilliant and dastardly tactic, really. Edmond was our head coach. He ran practice while Ronda Rousey trained right alongside us. If he gets kicked off the show, we are essentially screwed. If Hallman gets kicked off, who cares, really? And if you know Hallman, then you know he can be a bit of a dick.

So, for many reasons not shown and too many to pick at and talk about, just know that this interaction between him and Hallman was not some out of the blue junior high bullshit. Edmond had reason to be upset. Ronda and the coaches were wise to all of this, and so they removed Edmond from the situation before it got out of hand. Ronda may talk a lot and she may have a lot of haters, but she does have honor. She didn’t think it was right at all to call Edmond out to fight in a cage over some bullshit pissing contest when it would work to a professional advantage for them. She told Hallman as much.

Ronda doesn’t back down for anyone, and you can see Andy Dermenjian and Manny Gamburyan were right there in the case that Hallman didn’t like Ronda standing to him. You mess with one of the Armenian Mafia, you mess with all of them. After the incident, Ronda and Miesha Tate both made an agreement to Dana White that no more pranks or bullshit would go on. It’s a bold promise to be made by them considering how much hatred they have towards each other.

There was a time in women’s MMA. A time before Ronda, a time before Gina Carano, before me, before even Tara LaRosa was at the top. There was a beast of a woman named Jennifer Howe. She was knocking bitches out before they knew what MMA or the UFC even was. She couldn’t get fights. No joke, girls were scared to even think about fighting her. Enter Roxanne Modafferi. As mild-mannered and soft-spoken as she is, the girl is a fighter, 100 percent. She saw video of Howe brutally KO’ing yet another opponent, and she got a look in her eye that you only see in a few: “I can beat her.”

That was my first impression of Rox as a fighter, Tara telling me this girl was all about stepping up to Howe. And she did. And she won. And then when Howe demanded an immediate rematch, she did it again. Be sure about this, Roxanne is badass. I’ve known of her since I started training, and have been friends with her since the day we fought and she took me around Tokyo. For almost nine years, during the time when our payday for stepping up to fight the most feared fighters at the time was gas money. She deserved this as much as any of us, if only to let the newer fans to WMMA know that she was one of the best before people were putting together lists of who the best were. We all loved her, and we all looked out for her in the house.

Rox was an English teacher in Japan and has lived there for pretty much her entire adult life. I have always liked Japanese—my interest in manga and anime sparked that. With MMA being so prevalent in Japan, Josh Barnett has always told me it would only be beneficial for me to learn to speak Japanese. So I started Japanese lessons with Roxy. She even prepared worksheets and gave me homework! It was a great way to pass the time.

I spent much of my time in the house with her trying to convert her Jedi mindset to the ways of the Sith. She did not falter. We would even go back and forth quoting the Jedi code versus the Sith code to each other. The awesome thing about her is, as much as she is very innocent and childlike, almost naïve to some things, she has an old, wise sage living in her that comes out sometimes. You can see it in some of her confessionals. Rox is seriously one of the best people I know.

She helped me pass the time with several Japanese lessons, and Rox passed the time herself by collecting paper rolls and saving them to build a paper-roll man. If you follow her on Twitter or Facebook, you know she is a fan of puns. So it’s no surprise she decided on naming her man with a paper-plate face Plato. He would become a member of the house, along with several other characters yet to be created at this point.

It’s strange to me that Team Tate had to have a special time where they had the guys train with the girls. In our training sessions, we were integrated from day one. There was no guy or girl in the gym when we trained. You think Ronda would stand for such a thing? She would beat your ass for even thinking it. And even the guys on our team that weren’t used to training with girls quickly had their minds changed, since pretty much all girls are used to training with guys. Guys out there, lemme throw this piece of advice at you: If you ever go to a gym where a girl trains, and she trains legit and for real, we will be much more offended and lose a tremendous amount of respect for you if you treat us like girls. Beat me up. Out-strength me if that’s what you think will happen. But don’t you dare treat me any different than the guy you sparred in the last round. If all that happens is that I get beat up, I will respect you as a training partner forever. And maybe you would even learn something too…

Rakoczy was our house mom. She didn’t just take care of our team, she took care of everyone. She had anything we would need it seemed. She cleaned up after us, she took care of our injuries, she even nursed and doted over me when I had a fever for a couple days. If it wasn’t for her, our team, as well as the house, would have been a mess. I knew nothing of her before the show.

Our first night in the house, she was sitting in the room with Jessamyn Duke and myself, and she was so shy and nervous. And she said, “Guys, I saw it in your eyes that you were a little disappointed when I got picked to the team”—totally made up, by the way— “but I really want to learn from you. You guys have so much experience and knowledge, I just really need your guys’ help.”

Jess and I looked at each other and this “newcomer.”

“Well, yeah, of course, we weren’t bummed,” we said. “Of course, we’ll help you. No problem, we shall use our experience to help teach you!”

And this bitch swindled us! Little did we know, Rakoczy had the most combat experience out of anyone in the house! Close to 40 professional boxing matches, several world titles. At one point in time, she was the No. 1 boxer in the world in her weight class. She is one of the people on the show that I would come to grow the closest to. She was sooooo anal about how her stuff was set up on her nightstand. I very much enjoyed giving her a hard time about her OCD-ish behavior, and I would constantly be switching things around on her nightstand just to mess with her. Hilarious and hyper, this girl was. It wasn’t until the fight pick that I saw the change in her. This girl was a serious fighter and had serious experience. She did all she did, overcoming all that she had, and achieved all her accolades while being a single mom.

I would like to talk about the weigh-in, since everyone is so butthurt about the playing card. If you know anything about my career, I have made a point to make things entertaining for people. I have done this at weigh-ins for years. So, on weigh-in day, I talked to Roxanne, “Rox, you and I are old school! We gotta show ‘em we know more about fighting than fighting! I say, during the faceoff, you pull out your nunchucks on Rakoczy and make it memorable!”

She agreed it was a great idea. Haha. So, in my dastardly way, I pull Rakoczy aside and say, “Hey, I heard Rox say she was gonna try to show you up by pulling out her nunchucks on you at the faceoff. So take one of my NERF guns and respond in kind! Don’t let her upstage you!”

She also agreed.

I took great pride in orchestrating that weigh-in. In the van on the way I announced, “Tonight’s entertainment brought to you by the ‘Queen of Spades’!!” Hahaha, I’m even smiling as I type this. I’m glad it went over well.

So, on fight day, we are allowed to bring two people from the house that we are close to to the locker room during our warm-up. Jessica asked Jessamyn and myself. We did our very best to take care of her and her needs on her day as much as she always did for us. Large shoes to fill. So, Jessamyn and I did our best to do our job, and then watched as “Rage-koczy” warmed up. I have been in this sport for almost 12 years. I have had over 20 professional MMA fights, as well as a whole plethora of ammy fights. I have cornered more fights than I can count and witnessed fighters warm up as a regular routine of my job for as long as I can remember. I have never witnessed a more terrifying warm-up than I did that day when watching “Rage-koczy” warm up. She crossed over to whatever demon she has turned into during warm-ups for years. She oozed with experience and focus like I have never seen. It was terrifying. “This girl’s something else today.” Ronda spoke the truth.

This fight was where I truly learned the lesson and identified with what Ronda tried to tell me at the start of the show, about how it really feels when a friend wins, but another friend loses on the other side of the ring, because as soon as “Rage-koczy” won, I jumped up and cheered. I was truly happy. But then, almost immediately, I was hit with a terrible sadness for my friend Roxanne. It’s a strange thing that you can only experience if you have been on the show. The feeling of both of those emotions, elation and sadness, going through you…it’s like nothing I have experienced before. I have had friends fight each other. I have even fought my friends. This is something altogether different. It’s hard to put a finger on it to be able to describe it. It’s like having two siblings fight each other. You wish it didn’t have to happen. So when you see me celebrating with “Rage,” and crying with Rox, those are both very genuine emotions. I didn’t fake it for either of them. It’s very confusing. It’s very exhausting. Hearing Rox scream, “NOOOOOOO!” was one of the most heartbreaking things I had ever heard. I was the only one in the house that truly identified with exactly what was going on in her head. My longtime friend, fighting my big sister. Tough stuff, and strange things this house does to you.

And you get to see, as soon as the fight’s over, Rakoczy immediately takes over her role as mom, comforting and supporting Rox. Inspiring her even. That scene where she is picking her up is a great symbol of both of them. We all loved Rox. And Jessica took care of all of us. It’s a fucking beautiful image.

So, we finally had control. And Davey Grant had been begging to fight since day one. He is the craziest, goofiest guy in the house, but again, another serious fighter. And we were stoked and looking forward to riding the momentum from Jessica’s win.

Photo: Shayna Baszler (R) delivers a right hand (Esther Lin/Invicta FC)

About The Author

Shayna Baszler
TUF 18 Blogger

Shayna Baszler, also known as the “Queen of Spades,” is a veteran fighter and a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt who is competing on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter. She made her professional debut in 2003 and has appeared in such notable promotions as Strikeforce, Invicta FC and EliteXC. Baszler has faced many of the sport’s most notable names, including Tara LaRosa, Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, Sarah Kaufman, Sara McMann, Julie Kedzie, Roxanne Modafferi and Sarah D’Alelio. Training with Josh Barnett at CSW, she has a background in catch wrestling and is widely considered to be a top-10 bantamweight fighter. Outside of the cage, the South Dakota native is a certified EMT and counts roller derby and heavy metal among her interests.

  • lizzybet1

    Wow. That was a great blog. I could feel the pain in Roxy and the massive conflict of emotions in you from seeing friends, real friends fighting with that level of determination. And that was just from reading. I haven’t seen the episode yet. Hats off to all you people. As for Davey next week. Not sure I want to watch that one …. but I will. Come on team Rousey.

  • Rea @ Down Under

    Im about to watch the 2nd girls fight in half an hour damn i wish i never read this until 6pm…..Next time ill erad your blog on Friday….Cheers mate!!

  • Shibo

    Nice insight on the Edmond/Hallman situation. I watched that situation go down and didn’t really think that there might have been more to it. Thanks, QoSpades. ;)

  • SamuraiJack

    I was a bit turned-off by Shayna after the 2nd Episode. Didn’t much care for all the bravado and disrespect to Julianna. However after this episode I saw a different side of Ms. Baszler one that I can respect. It’s amazing how everyone in the house semed to love these two fighters, must have been extremely difficult to be there and to deal with the emotional fallout. Keep up the excellent blogging.

  • I love reading this blog whoever said none reads long stories over a website anymore should take this as an example of great storytelling and compelling reading material. Keep it coming QoS, awesome work, #TeamRousey

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  • asis

    Thanks for telling story of Jeniffer Howe and Roxy. I just watched on youtube Jennifer How vs Tara LaRosa and then Howe vs Roxy (1 and 2). Howe was a brutal fighter and Roxy was frick’n awesome in the way she handled her in both fights.

  • Andres V.

    From Venezuela, Nice blog keep em coming!!

  • LOVE the Blog, Shayna! Love you as a fighter as well! Keep up the great work and I look forward to the next one! Unc

  • Grapplintommy

    I find it hard to believe that hallman was doing all this mean mugging and instigating that you eluded to but refused to offer any specifics on. So the camera crew and editors set out to make rousey and Edward the Neanderthal look like heels? Yea, sure kid

  • As someone who enjoys writing and MMA, I can say that this is awesome. Keep your head up, and do what you do!

  • Karlita

    That fight was great. I think both of them are good fighters, when Roxy cry my heart drop. It was sad to see that even tho I was happy for team Rousey it was a sad episode to watch.

  • Vuxnut

    Just discovered your blog on Ronda’s FB page.

    This is some nice writing and great insights into the show. I will continue read this.

  • amaru psyn

    ..and even if you dont know that dennis hallman can be a bit of a dick, you’ve still probly seen part of his penis thanks to those horrid pink undies he wore in the cage that time, ughh

  • Mark Zima

    Well written. Respect.

  • JohnnyBean

    I’m really disappointed with the lack of talent on TUF 18. I was really looking forward to the season with the rivalry between Tate and Rousey. The problem with that is there isn’t enough of it. This last fight was very weak to say the least. A couple underweight fighters who lacked depth of style fighting. Did you see those kick attempts? I hope there are still talented fighters out there in the 135 lb class because I can’t see any of these 30 year old + has beens or 1 dimensional fighters in the UFC!

  • JulieJ

    Great Blog!! Great read!

  • kmc123

    I can tell from reading the last paragraph that Davey Grant loses the next fight against the kid with all the freckles on team tate.

  • Michelle Laney

    I really like reading your blogs. I am sooo glad Dana changed his mind about having women in the ufc, it’s about time. Sounds like everyone took something special out of being in the house. By the way you had a good fight also, can’t wait to see ya in the cage.

  • Michelle Laney

    I wish the show was on twice a week so we wouldn’t have to wait so long.

  • Cris,Cyborg.True champion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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