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Shayna Baszler is the dark horse in hunt for UFC bantamweight title shot

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According to a Feb. 8 report from MMA Fighting, hard-hitting South Dakota striker Shayna "The Queen of Spades" Baszler (15-8 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is set to make her official UFC debut on Apr. 16 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, on "The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs Australia" card.

Baszler, 33, will be fighting former Strikeforce bantamweight champ Sarah Kaufman (16-2, 1 NC MMA, 1 NC UFC), in a rematch from the "Strikeforce Challengers: Villasenor vs. Cyborg" card that went down in June of 2009.

While the fight will be Baszler's official UFC debut, it's far from her first rodeo.

Baszler's career dates back to 2003, and she has already defeated several of the top female 135-pounders in the world.

"The Queen of Spades" beat No. 2-ranked Alexis Davis (15-5) a few years back, and she also went the distance with No. 4-ranked Sara McMann (8-0) in a fight under the Invicta FC banner.

Many fight fans think Baszler did enough to beat McMann, and even "The Queen" herself doesn't consider that fight to be a true loss. Unfortunately for Baszler, the judges saw the fight in McMann's favor.

Flash forward to 2014 and Baszler is right back in the mix among the top 135-pounders in the world. FightMatrix.com currently has Baszler ranked No. 15 at bantamweight, while her upcoming opponent is ranked No. 5.

For Baszler, a victory over Kaufman would clearly propel her into the top 10 in the bantamweight ranks, and possibly even into the top five.

With No. 6-ranked Julianna Pena sidelined for at least six months due to a knee injury, No. 2-ranked Cat Zingano out for an extended period of time while she mourns the loss of her husband, No. 7-ranked Jessica Eye potentially facing consequences due to a failed drug test prior to her UFC 166 fight, it's clear that Baszler has a very real chance to jump into the title picture.

Additionally, current bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey already decisively beat Kaufman, No. 9-ranked Miesha Tate and No. 11-ranked Liz Carmouche, so it's unlikely they will get another crack at her any time in the near future.

The UFC wants some fresh challengers for Rousey, so it seems the table is set for Baszler to earn a chance at the promotion's 135-pound strap.

If Baszler is able to slip past Kaufman, she'll likely immediately receive a fight against a top five contender such as Tate, McMann, Eye or Davis.

With that said, Baszler could be just two victories away from a UFC title shot.

The "TUF Nations" card, which features a main event of Michael Bisping vs Tim Kennedy, takes place at the Colisée Pepsi in Quebec City.

Also featured on the card will be the welterweight and middleweight finals of The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia and the coaches bout between Patrick Cote and Kyle Noke, plus a lightweight bout between K.J. Noons and Sam Stout.

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