Note: This is a column I wrote for MMA Latest News
Judo champion and MMA prospect Marina Shafir is about to embark on a new road in her fighting career.
Shafir announced on the MMA Roasted podcast, where she’s essentially a co-host, that she signed with Invicta Fighting Championships.
“The Supernova from Moldova” comes into the promotion with a lot of hype, mostly due to her association with UFC women’s bantamweight champion “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, Jessamyn Duke and Shayna Baszler, collectively known as the “Four Horsewomen” – again my apologies those who are upset, I wrote the blog and sent the tweet to Baszler that started it all. In the blog, I’ve referred to Shafir as the Tully Blanchard of the group.
While Blanchard was a great tag team partner with Arn Anderson, he had a good singles run and carved his own niche. I think Shafir, while being associated with her UFC partners in crime, will build her own brand.
After an accomplished judo career, Shafir followed her longtime friend into mixed martial arts. She had a successful 5-0 amateur run with all of her wins coming in the first round via submission – three of which were under one minute.
The Supernova’s momentum seemed to follow her into the pro rankings. In her professional debut, Shafir submitted Chandra Engel with an armbar less than two minute into round one. She suffered her first setback after she was knocked out by Amanda Bell in 37 seconds. Some critics and fans labeled Bell’s win as an upset, even though the “Lady Killer” had a combined 10 ammy and pro fights under her belt – with all seven of her wins being finishes. I didn’t see it that way. Shafir experienced a setback against a more experienced opponent, like many rookies when they enter the pros.
Fighting under the Invicta banner gives Shafir a chance to turn things around and get back on the winning but it won’t be easy.
The Supernova enters a featherweight division that isn’t well recognized by casual fans but has a lot of talent. She’ll in the same weight division as submission artist Ediane Gomes – unless her move to bantamweight is permanent – powerful strikers like Tamikka Brentts and Veronica Rothenhausler and well-rounded opponents like Bell and Charmaine Tweet.
And, of course, there is the Shao Kahn of Invicta’s 145-pound division, Cris “Cyborg” Justino. Because of her association with Rousey, Shafir may come in with a target on her back, but I’m sure that’s something she can handle.
Although some may seem this as a risky move for Shafir, there are rewards that come with it.
With Justino’s focus on dropping to 135 and wanting to fight Rousey, Invicta’s featherweight division is in a little state of flux and is in need of some star power.
Shafir may start new the top of the preliminary card or at the bottom of the main card in her Invicta debut, but I think she’ll move up as she wins fights.
The Supernova has what it takes to take her mixed martial arts career to the next level, it just starts with that first step into the Invicta cage.