Marina Shafir, one of amateur MMA’s most promising prospects, will be competing as a professional for her next bout.
SciFighting.com caught up with Shafir after victory over former collegiate softball standout Nicole Upshaw (1-2) at University of MMA Fight Night 5. When asked about when she will be going pro, Shafir smiled and said “The next one.”
Shafir entered the bout against Upshaw as not only a huge odds on favorite but a fan favorite as well. When Shafir entered the cage, the crowd popped louder for her than any other fighter.
According to Shafir, having the large support is not daunting but instead something she looks forward to on fight night. “It’s comforting,” admitted Shafir. “When I feel the support, it’s like having a nice meal and having my belly full. I’m very thankful for everyone.”
Shafir’s fan base wouldn’t be as large as it is without the help of current UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey. Shafir trains alongside Rousey at Glendale Fight Club and was an assistant coach for Rousey on The Ultimate Fighter.
Since her time on the show, the media has given Shafir the title of “Ronda Rousey’s assistant coach” or “Ronda Rousey’s training partner” but she knows there is more to their relationship than that. “Ronda is my best friend and that’s what matters,” said Shafir. “I don’t want to upstage her or be bigger than her. I’m just so happy to be her best friend.”
Contrary to what fans and media see today, their relationship was not always rock solid. “When we first met we did not like each other, but over time we’ve grown so close.”
Rousey’s training relationship with Shafir was on full display Sunday night. Shafir walked away with a first round armbar victory in a performance that was eerily similar to the UFC champ. Shafir caught a leg kick from her opponent and took the fight to the mat almost instantly. Shafir quickly moved to mount where she unloaded a bevvy of strikes. Upshaw gave up her back but left her arm out in the process which led to the fight ending submission. The win pushed Shafir’s amateur record to 5-0 overall.
After the bout, Shafir was very complimentary of her opponent Upshaw. “She’s very strong and is a very good fighter. I give her props for taking this fight on pretty short notice. Not many fighters would do that. I hope to meet her at the top one day.”
If Shafir continues her top-level training and keeps her championship attitude, she could be a name to watch in the coming years.
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