Video for Dana White’s UFC Fight Night 28 Vlog, which features behind-the-scenes footage of UFC Ultimate Fight Night 27 and a quick preview of UFC Ultimate Fight Night 28.
A lifetime of competing has aligned Marina Shafir with exceptional training opportunities, and has readied her for a career in shutting down the naysayers.
Born in the small eastern European country Moldova, Shafir (Twitter: @MarinaShafir) moved with her family to Latham, N.Y., when she was 5 years old. Her father, a professional power lifter and Army Special Forces member at the time, let Shafir have her first experience in judo at the age of 6, which set her off on a successful quest in the discipline.
Shafir was competing in judo at 13 years old. After conquering the junior circuit by age 17, she started showcasing her skills on an international stage. As Shafir advanced in judo, her seamstress mother and mechanic father watched as travel expenses mounted. Along with an itinerary that included travel throughout the U.S. twice a month and outside the country about four times a year, Shafir was dealing with rehabbing a lower-back injury.
The odds stacked against her, Shafir made a decision that seems unthinkable in retrospect when considering where she is today.
“On top of me being almost crippled and my family struggling to keep my dream alive, I just quit,” Shafir told Jason Kelly and Joe Rizzo on MMA DieHards Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “I bartended for about three-and-half years, and I worked at Starbucks and I taught the little kids at the local jiu-jitsu club I started going to just to stay active.
“I did all these boot camps. I went to the gym, I did five (kilometer runs), but it just got so boring for me. I just wasn’t one of those gym rats. I tried to be, but I wasn’t. I started rolling more, and one thing led to another, then I got my first amateur fight and I realized I belong in that cage.
“Now we’re here.”
Where “we” are is close to Shafir making the switch from amateur mixed martial artist to professional.
Shafir’s amateur MMA record stands at 3-0, with all victories coming via armbar submissions. She views the transfer from amateur to pro as an elevation in professionalism – fighting as well as entertainment.
Her close association with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey gives onlookers the inclination that Shafir is ready to graduate to the next phase of MMA competition, but she has a different agenda.
“I think everyone that I train with is really shocked I’m still an amateur fighter,” Shafir said. “I understand why. I mean, after all, my best friend is a world champ. They’re like, ‘Why don’t you just go pro?’ I could if I wanted to, but I want to go through the ropes, and when I feel like I’ve gone through the ropes of the amateur circuit, then let’s sway into professional. It really boils down to me to make that call.”
Being chums with Rousey is beneficial in and out of the cage. A golden nugget of advice Shafir said Rousey provided her with is to always remain true to who she is. And as far as training perks, Shafir has had the privilege of working with some of the sport’s best athletes, and even got to experience “The Ultimate Fighter 18” alongside Rousey.
While Shafir looks up to Rousey more than anyone in MMA, there is one former UFC champion that she places second to none inside the cage. If things go as planned, Shafir may be training with this combatant soon and need a roll of toilet paper.
“I going to be training at Anderson Silva’s Muay Thai College,” Shafir said. “I think I might (expletive) my pants. I might do, like, a shart, like a (expletive)-fart.
“Anderson Silva is my absolute favorite fighter, I don’t care what anybody says about him, I don’t care what anybody thinks about his style, because he is the (expletive) man. All you mother(expletive) are drinking ‘Haterade,’ and wait until the rematch (against UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman at UFC 168). You see who your true fans are when you lose, and I’m a true (expletive) fan. He could lose five times in a row and I’d still be there and he’d still be the best fighter in the world.”
Silva’s school would prove essential if Shafir was to meet the fighter many MMA analysts have concluded would be her best friend Rousey’s toughest test.
Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, The Invicta and former Strikeforce female featherweight champion, is considered to have the striking ability to stifle Rousey’s outstanding grappling talents. Due to each combatant competing in different weight classes, the bout has a small chance of ever materializing.
Shafir, however, intends on having a career in the 145-pound division, and says she is ready to face “Cyborg” now, despite the difference in experience. Whether she could or couldn’t defeat “Cyborg” is debatable, but her eagerness to succeed in MMA cannot be denied.
“I’m very excited for the future of my career, and I’m just really excited to get into it,” Shafir said. “I’m going to be proving a lot of people wrong.”
The Maximum Fighting Championship has rounded out its six-fight main card for MFC 38: Behind Enemy Lines with the addition of three bouts that will be spotlighted live on AXS TV Fights.
In addition to the already touted key matchup in the lightweight division – the hotly anticipated rematch between Brazilian jiu-jitsu sensation Jonatas “Peixe Frito” Novaes and young Canadian star Kurt “The Hurt” Southern – two more fights have been finalized including a second expected thriller in the lightweight ranks.
Newcomer Alejandro “Alex” Garcia, who just signed a multi-fight deal with the Maximum Fighting Championship, will take on fan favorite Curtis “The Demon” Demarce.
Garcia (14-5) makes his organizational debut riding a streak that has seen him win eight of his last nine fights. The Yuma, Arizona, product has finished his foes in nine of his 14 victories including seven wins coming inside the opening round.
Demarce (13-10) is well-known to MFC fans for his epic three-round wars against both Marcus Davis and Richie Whitson. The Brandon, Manitoba, native has not only shown his courageous side in those fights, but has does it again by returning to mixed martial arts following a life-threatening car accident. Demarce’s biggest career victory to date came at MFC 26 when he secured a second-round tapout of Tyson Steele via inverted triangle choke.
The entire main card gets under way live on AXS TV Fights at 10 p.m. ET/8 p.m. MT/7 p.m. PT on Friday, October 4 live from the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta (check local listings for channel designation).
Adding more intrigue to the Novaes-Southern II battle, the winner has been guaranteed a shot at the MFC lightweight title.
“The first battle between these two fighters was a classic,” said MFC Owner/President Mark Pavelich. “Southern was all over Novaes for two rounds and totally dominating, and then being a slick submission artist, Novaes pulls out the stunning, come-from-behind victory in Round 3.
“Everyone wanted to see them go at it again, and clearly the winner will be well-deserving a title shot.”
Novaes (11-4) boasts eight submission victories on his career resume, including his tapout of Southern at the 1:06 mark of the third round at MFC 36. A native of Conceicao da Barra, Brazil, Novaes now fights out of Chicago, Illinois, and has impressive list of international successes in jiu-jitsu competitions. The 32-year-old is a 12-time IBJJF champion, and captured both the the World and Pan-American Nogi championships in 2011.
Southern (12-4) is an accomplished wrestler out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, but has adeptly added striking and jiu-jitsu to his arsenal. Southern, who has won four of his last five outings, picked up his seventh career submission victory at MFC 37, tapping out former title challenger Mukai Maromo with a North-South choke just 2:54 into their matchup.
The AXS TV Fights broadcast will open up with a terrific battle in the MFC’s middleweight division as hot prospect Teddy “The Bear” Ash (3-0) takes on rugged veteran Jared “The Yeti” McComb (5-2-1).
Ash, who fights out of Fort McMurray, Alberta, has finished all three of his opponents with two of those coming inside the opening round. McComb, an Edmonton, Alberta, native, is coming off a first-round victory at MFC 37.
MFC 38: Behind Enemy Lines – Main Card
- Anthony Hamilton vs. Smealinho Rama, MFC heavyweight title
- Jason South vs. Sam Alvey, MFC middleweight title
- Tito Jones vs. Anthony Birchak, MFC bantamweight title
- Jonatas Novaes vs. Kurt Southern, lightweight
- Alejandro Garcia vs. Curtis Demarce, lightweight
- Teddy Ash vs. Jared McComb, middleweight
First up is Anthony Birchak (Twitter: @abirchakmma). Birchak put on one of the most exciting performances of the year at MFC 37, when he defeated Ryan Benoit via decision in a 25-minute brawl. The victory set up Birchak for a MFC bantamweight title shot at MFC 38 against Tito Jones on Oct. 4 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta. The card includes three title fights, therefore, the MFC has left it up to the fans to decide who fills the coveted main event slot. To vote for Birchak, fans can log on the Fakebook.com and “Like” the photo in the hyperlink or hit up Twitter and tweet, “@MaximumFighting @abirchakmma #MFC #MFC38 #Bantamweight.”
Friend of the show, Alex Gasson (Twitter: @Pecker17) also lent some time to talk MMA, Ontario combat sports and share some hilarious stories as usual. Owner of Pecker Promotions and manager of Adrenaline Training Centre, Gasson was busy promoting grappling tournaments and MMA events earlier in the year, but has been relatively quiet as of late. However, he made us aware something is in the works, so be on the lookout for Gasson’s upcoming projects.
To cap the show off, Provincial Fighting Championships president Jamie Champion (Twitter: @JamieChampion) informed us on the details surrounding the promotion’s inaugural event. PFC 1 is taking place on Oct. 26 at the Agrilex Building at the Western Fair District in London, Ontario. The event is headlined by MMA veteran Chris Horodecki, and showcases a plethora of talent from the venue’s locale. Champion shed some light on constructing an MMA event, as well as some of the talent the Muay Thai practitioner hired in the front office.
UFC 164 takes place on Aug. 31 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wis., and is headlined with a lightweight title bout between champion Benson Henderson and challenger Anthony Pettis. There are a couple returnees to the Octagon after a lengthy hiatus, including Josh Barnett and Soa Palelei, but only the Ukraine’s Nikita Krylov is the only true newcomer.
Weight class: Heavyweight
Recent body of work: Defeated Gabriel Tampu at “M-1 Challenge 38 – Spring Battle” via Round 1 TKO on April 13.
Who he is: Krylov began his MMA career just 14 months ago and already has amassed 17 bouts. He’s never seen endured a bout lasting longer than one round, and holds 10 submission and five TKO/KO victories to his credit. The Kyokushin karate master won the Gladiator Fighting Championship 4-man single-night tournament and is a law student in Donetsk Law Institute in Donetsk, Ukraine. Krylov meets Soa Palelei in his UFC debut at UFC 164.