UFC has been on the rise for more than a decade now. However, women in the sport have been featured for less than a year. Former Lincoln graduate Shayna ‘The Queen of Spades’ Baszler is leading the fight.
"Obviously the UFC is the stage to be on if you're a mixed martial artist," MMA Fighter Shayna Baszler said.
On November 16th, 2012 Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White announced that the UFC would begin featuring women's fights. For Sioux Falls native and Mixed Martial Arts fighter, Shayna Baszler, that opened the door to dreams she didn't think would ever be possible.
"Previous to Ronda Rousey drawing the attention of Dana White to adopt it into the UFC there wasn't that dream for us and now it is real. We can be on the biggest stage available to our sport. It is really cool," Baszler said.
While the women are gaining popularity on the national stage, Baszler says South Dakota is on the brink of exploding with fighters from her home state.
"It's the truth. We just adopted a commission, so we haven't been able to put any real professional shows on in the state. It hasn't attracted fighters; it is a trickle down effect. Now that there is a commission I think the timing of all of this is going to make it explode, especially in South Dakota," Baszler said.
Baszler has fought not only for her rights as a woman, but also the sport she loves. She holds a 15-8 record as a professional and will be one of 32 fighters competing for 16 spots on this year's Ultimate Fighter reality TV show. She couldn't say whether or not she made the cut to be on the first season with a women's class. However she is excited to be a part of the women's movement in MMA.
"Now it's a dream. I think that because it is a goal you are going to see a lot more women get into the sport. It is just going to grow because there is a visible end goal," Baszler said.
You can see if Baszler makes the cut to join this year's Ultimate Fighter September 4th on Fox Sports 1.