After fighting their way through four rounds of the Mae Young Classic, Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler both have one more opponent to outlast—each other.
The Mae Young Classic field has shrunk from 32 to two. The inaugural women's tournament is now set to climax in Las Vegas with a battle of size versus speed, of a Japanese showstopper and an American badass.
Sane will bring a magnetic presence and an arsenal of stinging strikes to the dance. Baszler will meet her there, ready to show off how she's been able to infuse her MMA background into her offense, especially a rear naked choke that has already put four women away.
The Mae Young Classic finals will stream live on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on the WWE Network after SmackDown. A star-studded red-carpet event will air on Facebook Live ahead of all the action at 6 p.m. ET.
Who will make history as the first to win this event? What can we expect from Sane and Baszler in Sin City?
Read on for a full preview of Sane vs. Baszler and the conclusion of this tremendous tournament.
Tale of the Tape
- Nickname: Pirate Princess
- Height/Weight: 5'1", 114 lbs
- Finishing Move: Diving elbow drop
- Championships won: World of Stardom Championship, Wonder of Stardom Championship, Artist of Stardom Championship, Goddess of Stardom Championship
- Nickname: The Queen of Spades
- Height/Weight: 5'7", 153 lbs
- Finishing Move: Rear naked choke
- Championships won: Absolute Intense Wrestling Women's Championship, Ironman Heavymetal weight Championship (Dramatic Dream Team), Freestyle Cage Fighting Women's Bantamweight Grand Prix Championship
The Queen of Spades may be just learning the art of pro wrestling, but she's no stranger to fighting.
Baszler comes to WWE via the world of MMA. During her stints with Strikeforce, UFC and elsewhere, she clashed with big names from the sport, including Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes. She also competed on The Ultimate Fighter for Team Rousey.
In the cage, Baszler made a habit of forcing her foes to tap out. Per Sherdog, 14 of her 15 wins as a pro came by submission.
As a pro wrestler, she has carried over her MMA skills, adopting a style heavy on submissions and ground work.
Baszler's path at the Mae Young Classic saw her charge past Zeda, Mia Yim, Candice LeRae and Mercedes Martinez. WWE clearly wanted to paint her as a dominant force, a wrecking ball tearing through the tournament.
Her opponent in the finals has told a much different story in the ring. Sane has been the Mae Young Classic's resident gutsy babyface warrior. She's been outmatched in terms of size and power several times over but battled her way to a showdown with Baszler nonetheless.
Sane defeated Tessa Blanchard, Bianca Belair, Dakota Kai and Toni Storm in that order to advance to the finals.
The Pirate Princess has long been a star for Japan's Stardom promotion as Kairi Hojo. She has since signed with WWE, bringing her vibrant, violent style to a new stage.
Sane was arguably the best overall wrestler in the tournament and that appeared to be the case as she produced so many of the event's best matches, including standout clashes against Blanchard and Belair.
Her elbow drop is a work of art and if she hits it one more time, she can claim the title of the first winner of the Mae Young Classic.
Sane doesn't need to win here. She came into the tournament with more buzz than just about anybody in the field. Baszler, on the other hand, is the rising talent who could use a career-defining moment like this.
To catapult Baszler, look for WWE to crown her on Tuesday night.
The narrative to this point has been that Baszler is unstoppable. Sane will push and test her but eventually fall to continue that storyline, to help portray The Queen of Spades as a beast to reckon with.
Taking on Sane in the finals will result in Baszler's best match to date.
For one, the wrestlers will have plenty of time to work with. Hype will be on their side, too. And Sane has been the tournament's MVP, churning out excellent showings at every turn.
Sane will get the best out of Baszler, doing her part to make the submission specialist look like a star.
Don't sleep on Baszler's ties to Ronda Rousey and The Four Horsewoman of MMA, either. Rousey and her crew already crossed paths with WWE Superstars during the Mae Young Classic.
With plenty of eyes on the event's finale, the company is likely to further whatever it's cooking with Rousey, Baszler and the rest of the MMA fighters' invasion of WWE.