Marina Shafir looks spectacular in going 5-0

LOS ANGELES – Marina Shafir might well have fought her final amateur bout.

Regardless, she most assuredly turned in the most complete performance of her amateur mixed-martial-arts career on Sunday night at the University of MMA’s Fight Night 5 at Club Nokia in Los Angeles.

Showing improved, confident striking and flat-out dominance on the ground, Shafir secured an armbar submission against Nicole Upshaw in 1:32 of the first round to improve to 5-0 in amateur fights and indicated after that it might be time to head to the professional ranks.

“Marina’s performance was great,” said trainer Edmond Tarverdyan of the Glendale Fighting Club, where Shafir trains. “She let her hands go. Her focus was good. She did what she had to do to get the win.”

Shafir, the “Supernova from Moldova,” said her focus was indeed to show off her improved striking, which she did early and led to a takedown and then a clinic on the ground in her featherweight (145 pounds) bout.

“I was really confident with my hands,” said Shafir, who was cornered by Tarverdyan and fellow GFC trainee Jessamyn Duke, who is an Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter. “I really wanted to showcase them.”

Not long after the bout, Tarverdyan, who also trains UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and UFC bantamweight Shayna Baszler, gave his vote of confidence that Shafir’s time is now to head to the pro ranks.

“I know right now she’s ready to turn pro,” he said.

The news brought an even wider smile to an already-grinning Shafir.

“Well then, I guess I’m going pro then,” Shafir said. “Time to get paid.”

Shafir came out looking extremely confident Sunday night and marched forward to engage Upshaw (1-2), sticking a stiff left jab and then letting go with crisp, technical one-two combos. Upshaw, who displayed her toughness throughout, threw back, but Shafir timed her leg kick, caught it and used it for a trip takedown.

Shafir was immediately in half-guard and then looked to be going for a side-choke.

“It was more for position,” said Shafir, who finished her last fight via side-choke and has won her other four bouts via armbar. “I just wanted to make her as uncomfortable as possible for the time being.”

From there, Shafir briefly went to side control and then expertly transitioned to full mount and began raining down vicious right hands before a barrage of alternating lefts and rights. Upshaw gave up her back and Shafir used it to transition into an armbar.

It looked to be over, but Upshaw showed her flexibility and her grit. Shafir eventually repositioned and sank her hips in to get the tapout.

“I just pushed my hips up and I felt it click a couple of times,” Shafir said.

Though Shafir and her camp indicated a move to pro could be in the cards, only time will tell, but the burgeoning women’s MMA star made an emphatic statement Sunday that she’s continuing her climb up.

Said Tarverdyan: “She keeps getting better and better.”

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