Days before from challenging Ronda Rousey for the Strikeforce woman’s bantamweight championship, Sarah Kaufman is preparing to step out from the shadows of her opponent and into the spotlight.
Kaufman, 26, is being written off by fans, media, and oddsmakers as having no chance of dethroning Rousey in the main event of Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman on Aug. 18 in San Diego. The challenger, who held the belt for eight months in 2010, feels she is being significantly under looked prior to Saturday’s fight, but it is a role that isn’t necessarily bothersome. Rousey is undefeated and the current golden girl of female MMA. While that is fine and dandy for now, Kaufman is ready to win back the belt that previously belonged to her once the cage door closes at the Valley View Casino Center.
“I’m coming into the fight as a five to one underdog, which is crazy. I’m the former champion, how can you say that when Ronda’s literally had one fight in my division?” Kaufman told Fight Cove (www.fightcove.com). “Ronda is the new champ, she’s the phenomenon that came on the scene and took over woman in the sport and I’m kind of that person who is the quieter one who has been the champion and been stepped over.“
Rousey has become a big name in MMA overnight. Just five fights into her career, the 2008 Olympic Bronze medalist holds the most prestigious belt in female fighting. Due to her good looks, outlandish personality and talent inside the cage, Rousey has been pushed hard into the public eye. In recent months, Rousey has appeared on popular television programs such as TMZ and Conan, but most notably was featured on the cover of last month’s edition of ESPN The Magazine: Body Issue.
While Kaufman feels Rousey’s fame is positive in the sense that it has brought attention to female MMA, she wants some of that spotlight for herself and plans on taking it all away from the current champion in one fell swoop come Aug. 18.
“I’m ready to come in and slide that red carpet out from under Ronda’s feet.”
As far as how Kaufman stacks up against Rousey skill-for-skill, the Victoria, British Columbia native is aware of the threat the Judo specialist presents on the ground, but it not focusing entirely on that aspect of the fight. Kaufman is in the opinion Rousey has a predictable offensive attack, which can be both a positive and a negative in terms of her preparation.
“Every fight she has had she’s kind of fought the same style and it’s smart because that’s what she’s good at, but it’s also a little bit predictable.” Kaufman explained. “I’ve basically just taken my camp…and really just come up with a good game plan that is suited to me and not worry so much about what Ronda’s going to do because you have to fight your fight.”
Rousey is undefeated in MMA competition, winning all five of her bouts by first-round submission. On the flip side, Kaufman holds a professional record of 15-1 with her lone loss coming to Marloes Coenen by armbar submission, a move that Rousey has won all her fights with.
Kaufman is the far more experienced MMA fighter of the two, with more than three times as many fights as Rousey. With a total career fight time of 405-seconds, there are a lot of unknowns about where the champion’s skills are in positions other than the ground. Kaufman has been training at diligently ZUMA in Victoria and Greg Jackson’s in Albuquerque to exploit potential weaknesses in Rousey’s game, particularly in the striking department where, on paper, she holds a significant advantage.
“It’s definitely not a surprise that I’m going to want to keep it standing and she’s going to want to take it to the ground.” Kaufman said. “Just based on I have a lot of knockouts and she clearly has a lot of armbars and that’s both our comfort zones.”
There is no telling how a fight will play out until the cage door closes, but when Kaufman enters the cage opposite Rousey in the main event Aug. 18 on Showtime her plan is simple: fight to her strengths better than her opponent.
“It’s just going to be who can do that better and I’m really sure that I’m going to do what I want better.”