The name Marina Shafir is one many fans have never heard of, and those that have are probably unaware of her connection with the realm of women’s mixed martial arts.
Despite maintaining a 3-0 record as a mixed martial artist, Shafir is one of UFC champion Ronda Rousey’s assistant coaches on The Ultimate Fighter.
With the premier of the Team Rousey vs. Team Tate season, we were given a glimpse of Shafir, who, besides being an assistant coach on the show, is also a training partner, best friend, and roommate to Rousey, with an equally sharp tongue and fierce sense of competition.
Meet… Marina Shafir.
MMAWeekly.com: What was your reaction when you heard Ronda was going to coach and how did she ask you to help?
Marina Shafir: My immediate reaction to Ronda coaching was proud excitement. She's my little big sister. And she didn't ask me to help; she told me I was going to help, and I didn't argue.”
MMAWeekly.com: Tell us a little bit about the rivalry. Some people say it’s kind of “played up.” Do you have the same feelings that Ronda has toward Miesha Tate and Bryan Caraway?
Marina Shafir: It's a very natural rivalry. I don't think the media has to hype up it up that much because every aspect of it isn't fake. I don't know Miesha, and I don't want to know her. Bryan Caraway is a weak, fake-nice guy. That man has no spine and I'm actually excited to see how the fighters react to the both of them (on and off their team).
MMAWeekly.com: Were you surprised by the talent that showed up? Was it hard to narrow down the top finalists and what were some of the key strengths that Team Rousey looked for in selecting its members?
Marina Shafir: I was very satisfied with the talent that showed up because it showed that there is a lot more talent out there. Narrowing down the finalists wasn't as tough I as I thought because Miesha's and Ronda's picks were completely opposite. Some of the key strengths we looked for were heart, versatility, pride and technique.
MMAWeekly.com: What do you think of your team?
Marina Shafir: We are the Passion Team.
MMAWeekly.com: During the TUF 18 Q&A in Boston, Ronda said that her chief concern was making sure that it never looked like her coaching staff had any disagreements… that it was all taken care of behind closed doors.
Marina Shafir: We didn’t. We were all on the same page all of the time.
MMAWeekly.com: You can definitely see the passion. Ronda spoke about bending the rules and trying to joke and communicate with the fighters while cameras weren’t rolling to gain their trust. Did you do the same tactics?
Marina Shafir: Sort of… I just watched the fighters the first couple weeks. Didn’t say much. When you’re quiet, you hear more.
MMAWeekly.com: So you are the stealth ninja?
Marina Shafir: (Laughs) That I am.
MMAWeekly.com: Do you think they started to pick up on that? Would they start to be cautious about what was said near you or was the trust strong?
Marina Shafir: No, the trust was immediately there as soon as we picked our fighters. They knew they were in good hands. In the beginning, they were a bit cautious of me, but naturally I opened up with them further into the competition.
MMAWeekly.com: Tell us about some of the harder lessons to teach the fighters. Was it easier to coach males or females?
Marina Shafir: Pride and heart. Those two things were the toughest to try to explain to both sexes. But neither of the sexes were hard to coach.
MMAWeekly.com: Ronda is concerned about her image on the show. Do you have any concerns with the way you will be portrayed?
Marina Shafir: I have absolutely no concerns of how I am portrayed. It is what it is.
MMAWeekly.com: Watching the first episode, what was the most noted positive moment from it? The most noted negative moment?
Marina Shafir: The most positive moment was the first female fight to get into the house because it was a groundbreaking moment in MMA. The most negative moment was when Miesha was chosen to be a coach and watching her talk during the fights. She was calling out every obvious thing about the fighters and fights. I hope the fans will understand how pivotal it was to get into the house for those fighters.
Miesha was an airhead and looked like a Charlotte Rouse shopper.
MMAWeekly.com: Any final words for the fans?
Marina Shafir: Keep watching! This is the absolute best season and not something you want to miss!
Marina Shafir, Assistant Coach for Team Rousey, will be checking in with MMAWeekly.com readers as the season progresses. Be sure to follow her on twitter @marinashafir and let her know your thoughts.
(Follow Amanda Earley on Twitter)