WWE has gained another UFC veteran and MMA Four Horsewomen member in the form of Jessamyn Duke, and another Ronda Rousey training partner in Marina Shafir.
Duke, 31, was once considered among the top female MMA prospects in the world, which landed her on The Ultimate Fighter season 18, where she was coached by Ronda Rousey. Despite faring well on TUF and her UFC debut, things didn't go Duke's way in the cage, and ended up going winless over her next two years in MMA.
The nearly six-foot-tall fighter has remained close with Rousey since her time on the show, training with her, as well as the remaining MMA Four Horsewomen in NXT's Shayna Baszler and Marina Shafir.
Shafir, the fiancee of NXT's Roderick Strong, competed in Invicta FC before taking time off of MMA to give birth the the couple's first child. Shafir was also rolled in to the storyline feud between Strong and Bobby Roode last year.
Duke and Shafir have appeared on several WWE programs, including the Mae Young Classic last year where they showed support to Baszler, and along with Rousey had a face-to-face confrontation with several members of WWE's Four Horsewomen.
WWE sent Fightful.com the following on Monday:
MMA’s Four Horsewomen have arrived in WWE in full force.
Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir have joined their Four Horsewomen teammates Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler in making the move from mixed martial arts to sports-entertainment, reporting for training today at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla.
The 5-foot-11 Duke fought professionally from 2012 to 2016, competing in the bantamweight class for organizations including the UFC. She was also a member of the UFC’s “Ultimate Fighter” reality competition series in 2013, as part of “Team Rousey.”
Shafir, known by the nickname “The Supernova from Maldova,” stands 5-foot-7 and has fought under the banners of Invicta and Lights Out Promotions. She is also engaged to NXT Superstar Roderick Strong and has been seen at ringside for many of The Messiah of the Backbreaker’s matches.
The WWE Universe no doubt remembers the Four Horsewomen’s standoff with Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch and Bayley — three-quarters of WWE’s Four Horsewomen, alongside Sasha Banks — at last year’s Mae Young Classic. Duke, Shafir and Rousey were there to support Baszler, who advanced to the final round of the inaugural tournament before losing to Kairi Sane. Though the Four Horsewomen factions did not come to blows at the Mae Young Classic, the exchange of words made for a stirring scene.
Since then, Baszler and Rousey’s impact in the squared circle been nothing less than immense: The Queen of Spades forcefully claimed the NXT Women’s Title from Ember Moon at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, while “Rowdy” Ronda has emerged as one of Raw’s top Superstars following a spectacular in-ring debut at WrestleMania, where she teamed with Kurt Angle to defeat Triple H & Stephanie McMahon.
With Duke and Shafir now preparing to conquer a new world of combat sports, will it be long before they add to Baszler and Rousey’s already incredible list of accomplishments in the ring?
Duke gained some pro wrestling training while working under Josh Barnett in California, and has since relocated to Orlando where she lives with Baszler and former TNA Knockout's Champion Mia Yim. It's also no secret that Duke has been at the Performance Center often of late, and has also spent time training with Natalya in the past.