Marina Shafir shows she's 'TUF' enough
MMA: Glendale-trained amateur fighter taught plenty, learned just as much as assistant on Team Rousey.
ARCHIVE PHOTO: Marina Shafir had something to teach on "The Ultimate Fighter." (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer / October 16, 2013)
For those who closely follow the world of women’s mixed martial arts, Marina Shafir is a name associated with budding potential.
She’s an undefeated amateur with three first-round submission victories and, seemingly, the brightest of fighting futures ahead of her.
However, when Shafir, who trains at Glendale Fighting Club along with other Southern California locales, took her spot as an assistant coach on “The Ultimate Fighter,” it was her lack of professional experience rather than her wealth of promise that was at the forefront for the 25-year-old former judoka.
“That was my first worry is these people don’t need to respect me; these people don’t need me to teach them anything,” Shafir said. “That was a big worry for me.”
When tapings concluded in early July, though, Shafir emerged from “The Ultimate Fighter 18” tapings with a new vantage point. She also exited a roller coaster ride that’s currently playing out on television screens every Wednesday night, as Shafir, Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, and the rest of Team Rousey faced off with archrival Miesha Tate’s Team Tate in a season that’s so far been rife with exciting fights and arguably as much bad blood between coaches and their staffs as any “TUF” season before.
Thus far, some believe Rousey’s image has taken a hit, while to some, Tate has come off as more affable.
Shafir, a longtime training partner, roommate and best friend of Rousey, clearly isn’t in agreement. Instead, she contends that Team Rousey — which also includes Manny Gamburyan and Andy Dermenjian — was true to itself and the world of fighting, while Tate and her team were putting on airs for the camera.
“I think [Tate’s] agenda was to just try to make herself look like the goody two-shoes,” Shafir says. “We don’t pretend. You have to be a hardass person to be in the fight game.”
The show is leading up to a live finale on Fox Sports 1 on Nov. 30 from Las Vegas, which will also be the setting for Rousey and Tate’s rematch on Dec. 28. Rousey (7-0) previously defeated Tate (13-4) in March of 2012 and Shafir doesn’t hesitate in giving a prediction for their second bout.
“People are only going to know her as the person that lost to Ronda twice,” Shafir says.
Tapings commenced in May. Not that long before, Shafir became an assistant for no other reason than Rousey told her she was going to be a part of her staff.
“I roll with the punches,” Shafir says. “I’m pretty flexible with stuff like that.”
After getting past her initial reservations about what she could bring in terms of advice and lessons to a budding crop of pro fighters, Shafir found that she did have plenty to teach.
“From my judo perspective, I had a lot more to offer people than I thought,” Shafir says.
Thus, like the rest of Team Rousey has attested to, Shafir became close with the team’s fighters and dealt first-hand with the tribulations that came with losses and the triumphs that came with victories.
“We had the same emotions as if we were fighting,” Shafir says. “It really became a family environment.”
In general, the experience opened Shafir’s eyes in respects to fighting and coaching.
“It was stressful cause it made me realize what it takes to be a coach,” Shafir says. “It also made me appreciate people I don’t know. Everybody has their own struggle.”
In large part, Shafir hasn’t jumped into the spotlight during the first six episodes, though she’s quick to flash her trademark loyalty in the latest episode “Zone In” when her and Rousey extend some middle fingers to Tate after the latest fight.
Rousey and GFC trainer Edmond Tarverdyan have been on the negative end of more than their share of internet feedback this season. Tarverdyan has been involved in altercations with Bryan Caraway, an assistant coach and Tate’s boyfriend, and Dennis Hallman, a guest coach for Tate. Rousey’s reaction to losses and her behavior, at times, has also been chastised by some fans.
When asked for her reaction on the negative feedback, Shafir is quick to point out the editing of reality television and her feelings that Team Tate was often putting on a show for the cameras.
“Just take editing into consideration,” Shafir says. “They’re making Miesha relevant now, cause after Ronda beats the s--- out of her, nobody’s gonna give a f--- cause she’s lost to her twice.”
As for how Team Rousey is portrayed overall, Shafir isn’t too concerned, as she believes that in the setting of reality television, Rousey and her assistant coaches stayed as real as it gets.
Hence, Shafir is unconcerned with Team Rousey being portrayed as wearing the black hat, as she believes being true to the sport and themselves was the prevailing component.
“Nobody made us the bad guys; we were the bad guys going in,” Shafir says, “because we weren’t afraid to tell people what fighting was about.”