Friend, training partner and roommate to UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, Marina Shafir (above), spoke to BJPenn.com’s Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio recently about this season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ Shafir had a lot to say about how she and Rousey are being perceived, and she didn’t hold back when speaking out against rival coach, Miesha Tate.
By Christopher Murphy @MurphMMA
Even if you haven’t seen an episode of this season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ you are likely aware of the intense rivalry between the show’s head coaches, Miesha Tate and UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.
It is a rivalry that began in months leading up to their first fight in 2012 when Rousey challenged Tate for her Strikeforce title. After Rousey won and then moved on to become the first UFC women’s champion, the rivalry only intensified, building to its current point: the two women coaching opposite each other on ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’
On the show, the rivalry is pervasive, already pinning a number of the assistant coaches against one another. BJPenn.com’s Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio spoke with one such coach: Marina Shafir, the assistant coach and good friend of Ronda Rousey. And she had plenty to say about this season of TUF.
First and foremost, Shafir addressed those who questioned her ability to coach. Despite having only three amateur fights, Shafir has two national Junior Olympic Judo titles and a long history with the sport that she can share with her fighters.
“It was really nerve-wracking,” Shafir recounted of the first day on TUF. “The first couple weeks I rarely said anything because I was trying feel these girls out. I may not have medals in Judo, I may not have stats in Judo that people are impressed with – and that’s fine. What they don’t realize is that’s a sport I was committed to for a very long time and a very long period of my life. Just because I don’t have any medals doesn’t mean I’m not capable of being at the top-level and still fucking performing with those top athletes. Because I’ve been training Judo forever, I’ve gone through a lot of hell with it, and that’s all I really have to say. If they want to know something about it, then I’ll help them; if they don’t, then that’s cool, they don’t need it – I’m not going to offer it to them. That was just a big comfort I had to overcome.”
What helped Shafir embrace coaching was her love for MMA and her interest in learning as much as she can.
“I’ll always be like a student which means I kind of want to be a teacher as well. I would love to be able to guide athletes through this amazing journey. A lot of girls and guys who decide to fight, they really don’t know what they’re getting into a lot of the times. This sport is becoming so popular and so mainstream now, it’s almost the way that these athletes are fighting and training, it’s like they’re Olympic athletes, when they get to the professional level. You know, I would love to be on the other side of that eventually in my life and help guide them with what I’ve learned and show them that all that shit works, and they will be successful with it. That’s like an absolute goal of mine, just spreading – that should always be the goal with a passion of yours: you always want to leave it better than when you started. That’s a goal of mine, and I think I can do that if I continue to keep going down this path. The way that it’s going it’s almost guaranteed that that is eventually going to happen.”
To date, Shafir thinks women’s MMA has taken steps in the right direction, but she feels there is immense room for the sport’s continued growth. Her role in ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ helps, but she believes it is bigger than that – something Shafir claims she and her friend and training partner, Ronda Rousey, understand.
“I mean, right now, I guess it’s just been a couple baby steps, that’s all,” Shafir said of the progress of women’s MMA. “It’s nothing worth really talking about yet. I would absolutely love to be able to do fundraisers and fucking talk to the youth in schools, I don’t know! Fucking invade gym classes and like see what – you know what I mean? I just have all these crazy ideas of like ways to influence the future – or future, potential fighters.
“Because, realistically, everyone is going through some kind of fight in their life. They’re fighting somehow, like they have to; it doesn’t have to be with their fists, it really it’s just matters of the heart. Everybody’s going through a fight, and it’s bigger than MMA. Unfortunately [what] that fucking retard Miesha Tate just does not know is that this sport is bigger than what the sport is, and that’s why Ronda is doing what she’s doing. It’s bigger than her. It’s bigger than her fake titties, her fucking push-up bras, it’s bigger than that. That’s what her all-end goal is, and unfortunately, she’s not on that bandwagon; and you can’t ask somebody… like that to be on that kind of bandwagon, it just doesn’t make sense because she’s not a selfless person, she’s a very selfish person.”
It goes without saying that Shafir shares in Rousey’s distaste for Miesha Tate.
“Oh my gosh, it was so fucking tacky!” Shafir said of Miesha Tate’s style on TUF. “It was like, I’m like, ‘Where the fuck did you get your jewelry from, the dollar store? Even the dollar store has better jewelry than that!’ And I’ve shopped at the dollar store, I still shop at the dollar store. You can’t find… it was just bad, it was bad… She looks like she’s a freshman high-schooler trying to be cool in school and just being tacky and just too much.”
Of course, Shafir’s comments from this interview may only add to what this season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ has created – and what many fans are calling a tarnished image of Rousey. Shafir claims that the public perception is drastically shaped by the editing of the show and the fans’ quickness to make judgments.
“It’s kind of like a double standard, you know, because we do want to be role models for these girls, but we’re also like developing and growing in the public eye. So we’re going to have moments of Miley Cyrus where we’re fucking crazy, and we’re going to come off as fucking crazy. We might not be twerking, but like something could pop up on the fucking internet, and no one is going to understand and they’re just going to make an instant judgment of it, and you’re not going to be able to defend yourself or anything, you know what I mean?
“I’m a very respectful person, I have good sportsmanship, I hate to lose – but that picture that’s been floating around on Twitter of me and Ronda flipping off Miesha, you know like, yeah, I know that shit wasn’t tasteful, but it had gotten to the point where this bitch was so fucking two-faced she couldn’t make up her mind on whether or not she wanted to be a good sportsman – like have the sportsmanship and just realize like – why would you keep trying to shake our hands when you know what you’re going to get? You know we don’t like you. You know, why do you want to keep crossing that line? You know what I mean? Especially when we made a promise to the big man [Dana White] that we weren’t going to do that shit anymore, and you’re still fucking – it’s like putting salt on the wound, we couldn’t do shit about it.
“Yeah, that was a tasteless moment on our part, but you know what? It was viewed a lot, very disrespectful, and ‘how could you do that?’ and I had a lot of Tweets from people saying they had daughters and [I] lost a fan because [their] daughter saw that and she looked up to you. You know what though? Your daughter is going to have to make a decision at some point in her life to defend her honor, and defend who she is, and to defend the honesty of what her life is about. And you know what? That’s what we did in that instance. And it’s not going to come out how people want it, and that’s where the confusion is going to come in, and that’s where the judgment comes in. So, that’s my answer to that. I’m sorry. We want to be really good role models to all these up-and-coming female MMA fighters who are strong-willed, you know? We’re going to try and do the right thing, but a lot of the time the right thing is going to be the wrong thing, and there’s no other real way I can explain that.”
For the most part, Shafir said, she and Rousey are not afraid to do what they feel is right regardless of how that may be perceived. She says that approach is a stark contrast from their rival, Tate.
“Miesha, you really think your mom is going to approve of you being a fake-ass bitch? Like really? You think your mom really wants that out of you? Like I don’t think so, I wouldn’t think so. My mom doesn’t want [that]. I apologized for flipping her off to my mom, but my mom was like, ‘You know what?’ She’s like, ‘We don’t flip people off in Russia, we just tell it to their face.’ That’s how it happened.”
The only thing that bothers Shafir more than Tate, it seems, is the participants from TUF who have been blogging about the show as it airs. To Shafir, these fighters are believing the editing more quickly than the fans.
“It’s really funny: the audience is really believing the editing. There’s so much that was left out. I can’t wait until I can actually say some of this shit that they fucking left out – a lot of shit, a lot of shit. It’s disrespectful. They’re going to immediately believe the editing. It’s funny, a couple people, or just some of the fucking people on Miesha Tate’s team are also believing the editing. They are fucking, they’re like puppet-mastered up, they fucking… and it’s crazy! Did you forget that there were cameras running through the whole season, and they got you from the beginning to the end, and you’re just lucky that they didn’t expose you? Like and now you’re believe what’s happening around – it’s just fucking pathetic, it is so pathetic that these people sometimes just believe what’s happening on TV, and like how they’re being made out to look. It’s funny, because there’s nothing really that I can do, but you know what? It’s these people who act this way that are either going to keep the sport going or they’re going to tarnish it. It’s all about how you look at it.”
‘The Ultimate Fighter: Season 18’ airs on Wednesday nights at 10pm/7pm ETPT on FOX Sports 1.Tags: BJPENN.com, FIST-ta-CUFF, FIST-ta-CUFF Radio, Marina Shafir, miesha tate, mma, MMA NEWS, Ronda Rousey, The Ultimate Fighter, The Ultimate Fighter 18, TUF, TUF 18, ufc, ufc news