Shayna Baszler is set to make her UFC debut at UFC 177. She was a member of The Ultimate Fighter 18 cast that put women in the spotlight for a full season.
She was submitted in the first round of action by eventual winner Julianna Pena, but she continued to train with her TUF coach Ronda Rousey after the show ended. Baszler, Rousey, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir became close friends and dubbed themselves the “Four Horsewomen” of MMA.
Bethe Correia created a stir in her last victory. She defeated Jessamyn Duke at UFC 172 and proceeded to put the Four Horsewomen on notice. She held up four fingers and proceeded to put one down. It was a clear message, and one that made people talk.
The UFC was quick to capitalize on the notion and booked Correia against Baszler. Can she topple the talented Brazilian?
Correia is 8-0 as a professional and currently ranked as the No. 10 contender in the women's bantamweight division. A win against Baszler will continue to move her up, and the Horsewomen storyline could place her as one of the most intriguing contenders for Rousey's belt.
Baszler is a veteran of the sport. She is an excellent grappler with solid submissions. She has extensive training under Josh Barnett and now Rousey. She is 15-8 in her storied career, but that win-loss record is quite deceiving. She has never backed away from a fight.
The American has big-fight experience against Alexis Davis, Sara McMann, Sarah Kaufman and even Cris “Cyborg” Justino.
This is a pivotal fight for both women.
Correia has momentum on her side, and the oddsmakers have her as a slight favorite (via Odds Shark). However, Baszler cannot be counted out of this fight. She is simply too crafty to discredit. Her experience will be a major plus in this fight.
Baszler has failed to beat the top tier in the division time and time again. A win for Correia shows that she is of that caliber. Baszler can play the role of gatekeeper for Rousey's title while trying to make a run herself.
Correia has only finished one of her fights, and this is by far her toughest task to date. It would appear, on paper, that Baszler will have the full 15 minutes to try to find a submission. That is plenty of time. Fourteen of 15 career wins by Baszler are from submissions.
The Queen of Spades' unique catch-wrestling game will be an interesting matchup for Correia, and we have no idea how much Rousey has influenced her game. Baszler will be able to surprise Correia with how much she has improved, and if she has, then it could be a big win for her debut.
Baszler has been a presence around the Top 10 of the bantamweight division in the past, and she can re-enter the rankings with a win Saturday. She is a tough out for anyone, but she has more to prove against Correia thanks to the smack talk.
She can pull off this slight upset and reinsert her name among the best veterans of the sport.
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