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Shayna Baszler 'jaded' with MMA fans, hoping to get back on track against Amanda Nunes

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Shayna Baszler has been a pro-wrestling fan her whole life and understands the give and take between athletes and fans.

Recently, longtime WWE heel Vickie Guerrero retired from the sports entertainment organization. The fans in the arena booed her exit until she left their view. Then they showered her with a "Thank you, Vickie!" chant.

"That's why pro-wrestling fans are awesome," Baszler told MMAFighting.com. "They know that they hate you, they boo you, but they appreciate what you do to let them escape for a couple of hours when they come see you."

In Baszler's opinion, MMA fans are not quite that way. The longtime women's MMA star said she has become disenfranchised with the fanbase, specifically what she feels is ignorance toward the sport's history. Baszler said she was upset when she saw hate directed toward UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman, who had a GoFundMe page started in his name to help him pay for necessary hip surgery after complications from the original procedure.

"That's one of those things that has made me a little jaded about MMA and MMA fans is the lack of knowledge of the history of the sport," Baszler said. "A prime example that's relevant right now is Mark Coleman. He's a legend, former champion and he's struggling to pay for hip surgery that he likely needed from putting his body on the line for fans every night."

Baszler (15-9), who meets Amanda Nunes at UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. LaFlare on Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro, has been the target of derision on social media herself. Her TKO loss to Bethe Correia last August combined with Baszler's ties to polarizing UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey have brought scorn from fans.

The fact that Baszler, 34, is one of the pioneers of women's MMA and a pro since 2003 seems to have been lost. People have forgotten she has 14 submissions in 15 career victories (including chicken wings and twisters) and wins over the likes of Alexis Davis, Roxanne Modafferi and Julie Kedzie. Right now, Baszler seems to be known mostly for being a part of Rousey's Four Horsewomen group.

"It bothered me at first," Baszler said of the internet hate. "But it's almost like it's so much that it doesn't bother me anymore. When you have a leak in your ceiling, that's very annoying and stressful. But if all of a sudden it opens up and 'whoosh' your whole ceiling collapses, there comes a point where you're just like, 'Really? Alright.' It's almost so much that it's funny. But I think what I'm learning is that people are going to find a reason to hate you just because."

Baszler has a chance to refresh people's memories against Nunes. It's an extremely tough fight for someone coming off a loss in her UFC debut and the fight is in Nunes' home country of Brazil. But Baszler believes that an exciting win over Nunes combined with her attitude could put her right back into women's bantamweight division relevancy. Nunes is ranked No. 9 in the UFC's official rankings in the weight class.

"We've seen really stellar performers, it takes forever for them to get in there, because they're not interesting -- either their fight style or their personality," Baszler said. "I think I have an exciting fight style and a personality. I think any fight I'm gonna take is gonna get me back in there. It's just that she happens to be on a good upswing and it's in Brazil. I think that definitely gives it a little boost."

Before the Correia fight, Baszler said she was tight. It was her first UFC fight and Correia having finished her close friend Jessamyn Duke previously put more pressure on her. Baszler said when she was at her best a couple of years ago in Invicta FC, she was incredibly loose before competing.

"That was when there really was no pressure," Baszler said. "I didn't care. I wish you could have seen me in the back. It's almost like I was trying to fake it against Bethe, fake being up. Smacking myself in the face, like 'roar.'"

Baszler plans to be more relaxed against Nunes. She's comfortable with her preparation under her coach Josh Barnett in Los Angeles as well as her place in the history of women's MMA. Even if some of the sport's newer fans don't know much about the latter, Baszler is starting to develop some tolerance there, too.

"I've been kind of embracing the fact that I'd rather have them boo and hate and comment on everything to keep us relevant than to have them ignore us," she said. "There's a lot of girls in the UFC that are doing a lot of great or horrible things and nobody talks about it because they don't care about them."

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