There isn’t really much to say about the episode, as far as episodes go. Raquel Pennington was fighting Jessica Rakoczy. We knew it for a week. I knew if it stayed standing that Rage-koczy would stick and move and win the fight. I thought Rocky would eventually take her down, actually. And it was there that I was worried.

This fight is actually really interesting if you want to talk about all the things that go into a fight that isn’t the actual physical part of the fight. Rocky is a very methodical, rhythmic fighter, and you see her getting sucked out of her groove. Rage-koczy makes her fight that flinchy feint game. And anyone that plays that with her is going to lose. She was in, out, in, out, back in again. She made Rock fight her fight. You hear it all the time. But knowing both of them so well on the show, I really got to see it.

It’s strange to see the end of the show happen. To be living the finale live, right now. I am in Vegas, for the card that I would be on, but, as you know, an injury has made the timing of that change. I am here to help corner Jessamyn Duke and see the rest of my TUF family. And that’s what I hope you guys take out of watching this whole thing. My life has completely changed. It has for all of us. Relationships have been lost, people have moved their lives…but the friendships. If it wasn’t for the friendships that we made, then all of this would only really be worth it for one person, right? And that can’t be what it’s all about.

I have done more in my MMA career than most people can even dream of. I am lucky enough that I am one of the few still fighting successfully during this time. I haven’t just witnessed and seen the growth happen, I have lived it. I am living it!

I started during the days where I signed up at the door of a barn in the same line as people that were paying to get in to watch the fights. I saw promotion after promotion attempt to “integrate” the women. I did it at a time when no news, no cameras, heck, barely even camera phones were around to record the glories of battle. I did it when I was paying my own gas money to travel hours of driving, just because I needed to do it. There wasn’t Twitter for everyone to get on and pretend to be experts. There wasn’t TV. There weren’t paychecks. There wasn’t even the possibility of the dream of the UFC.

I did it when the love from fans wasn’t there either. I did it at a time when the glory wasn’t getting to see you guys in the hotel lobby, all smiles and asking to sign your pictures. A time before I even knew that I absolutely loved meeting you guys.

So when you are out there, watching the TV, ask yourself, would these girls still do this and still have taken this path if this wasn’t available? Would they put themselves on the line for your entertainment for only gas money? Because I would. I know I would because I did. Before the Queen’s Army there was the Queen of Spades. I have always been marching for you, even before you knew I was. And there’s still so much more glory to be had!

So, if you can stomach it, if you aren’t faint of heart, if you can handle the occasional Twitter expert, if you can handle a bump here and there, enlist. There are so many glories to be had and shared. The spoils will be plentiful. But remember, taking over the world is not for the faint of heart!

Photo: Shayna Baszler (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.

  • ucitelica

    Shayna – that was beautifully written – very moving – I actually got a little teary eyed – looking forward to seeing you and Sarah fight in the UFC in the New Year – maybe even together!
    Take Care!

  • Keith Summers

    well said dear…I have come to love the female fighters…all but one….you are much more exciting to watch and have the best in sportsmanship and honor…all but one….I will root for all of you ladies in every match and every fighter I will respect ….all but one…thanks for introducing me to womens fighting and I will be a fan forever more….good luck in life Shayna, you are a true example of courage and determination…maybe you will be one of the female coaches on UF next year, you have all the qualities…again, thanks and the best to you and all the women fighters…

  • People who think that they are more famous than what they really are? The past is long gone honey! Also people who think that Ronda is reason why ufc has women? Well is she gonna fight her self? Woman where introduced by invicta,strike,and it be stupid business wise to not have them, maybe the correct term is she is one of the first! With a hand down belt! If Ronda was so great she would be in a fight card of her own,not in one where a super legend is having a rematch of rumors of the first one being a fix! The reason woman mma isn’t any bigger in the ufc than invicta,or strike period. The way ufc is going even the mens isn’t going to be greater especially after all these win,loss,favoritism bull that has paved a pattern of fake winning Jon vs Alexander,Condit vs Diaz, Gsp vs Johnny Hendrix,and the for ever running Greg Jackson camp,nobody likes cowards running and dodging rematches! Who is making all these lame decisions? And know Shayna bazeler is coming to the fake ufc of today! Boring…..ill be reading a book instead…..

    • Djizeus

      Oh, one of those experts you were talking about. Surely Juanito, you’re a very successful fighter and / or businessman yourself? No? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

  • Djizeus

    Shayna, my only disappointment for this season is that I won’t see you fight again on Saturday. But like the rest of your fans, I’ll be waiting to cheer for you whenever that next fight happens! Godspeed

  • Joseph Gonzales

    woman u rock happy Thanks Giving !!!I like your attitude and everything about You. I can not wait to see You blow up wmma You are truly a warrior

  • Liz Maddison

    Epic indeed. Disappointments; injuries; elation and devastation. Queens army and all you fighters. I too have learned so much from this whole TUF18 experience and I am in awe of you all. Total respect