So MMA Weekly has the low down on something I mentioned in the comments section of the Kim Couture/Meisha Tate article yesterday: Sarah Kaufman (8-0) has contacted Strikeforce with the offer to step in for Couture. Kaufman, who trains at Zugec Ultimate Martial Arts in Victoria, BC, under Adam Zugec, was out of action for over a year. After she defended her HCF title with a second round TKO of Molly Helsel in March of 2008, the HCF folded. Kaufman was promptly signed by EliteXC, but that promotion, too, folded. Kaufman then signed on with Palace Fighting Championships, but was delayed from fighting for lack of an opponent, until she finally stepped into the ring against Sara Schneider (who agreed to the fight after two previous fighters pulled out) on April 23. Now, Kaufman may be set to fight again only three weeks after her latest victory. From the article:
Sarah Kaufman on Thursday afternoon told MMAWeekly.com negotiations were underway to step in for Couture at the May 15 event.
Strikeforce officials and Kaufman's representatives have agreed to the match-up, and contract details are being ironed out, said Kaufman.
Kaufman, currently undefeated in MMA with eight professional wins, was one of the contracts acquired by Strikeforce in a purchase of ProElite assets last September. She made her first post-buyout appearance last week at Palace Fighting Championships: Best of Both Worlds 2, where she stopped Sara Schneider with strikes in the second round.
I should note (not for the first time) that I train at the same facility as Sarah, and she has choked me out at least five times. I should also note that I am a huge fan of Kaufman, and not just because she is intelligent, well spoken, friendly, and fun; she's also a stone-cold badass in the ring, and she showed it in her last fight. Because very few were able to watch the fight, I've included a run-down.
The description from MMA Weekly of Kaufman stopping Schneider doesn't really do justice to what happened in that fight. I am lucky enough to have seen the tape, and I remember at one point thinking that it looked an awful lot like a bear mauling a deer. And that is not a knock against Schneider; she fought with a lot of heart and technical skill, and pulled out every trick in the book, including two spinning backfists (one of which connected), and several different looks on takedowns. But Kaufman's hand speed, power, and under-rated ground game made all the difference. Schneider was unable to take Kaufman to the ground except by pulling guard, and promptly discovered what seven previous opponents already knew: guard or no guard, it's a bad idea to let Kaufman get top position. Even as Schneider repeatedly tried for sweeps, Kaufman calmly used body position to maintain her base while raining brutal blows down on her opponent. In the early going, Schneider was mixing in submission attempts while trying for sweeps, but the battering took it's toll. By the end of the first round, Schneider was almost totally defensive on her back; by the second she was almost immediately covering up.
However, the biggest difference in the fight might have been a knee that Kaufman delivered from the clinch in the late first round. Kaufman's stand-up was crisp from the opening bell, and she consistently made more contact than Schneider; but more than accuracy or volume, Kaufman's shots were in a different class as far as power. Kaufman came straight up the middle on most of her punches, tagging Schneider in the mouth repeatedly. Despite not having a reach advantage, Kaufman's aggression and speed allowed her to straight rights to find their mark even when Schneider attempted to jab or push kick to create space.
Eventually, unable to bring Kaufman down with shots from the outside and eating punches up the middle, Schneider clinched with Kaufman. Kaufman immediately shifted her offense and slammed a knee into Schneider's midsection; the impact was audible even on the video. Schneider immediately dropped to the mat, briefly attempting a single before again pulling guard again. Despite ending up on the bottom, this was probably a smart move: Kaufman and Zugec felt that a second knee from the clinch probably would have ended the fight, and it really seemed that the combination of the knee and earlier ground and pound had sapped most of Schneider's energy. Were the rounds five as opposed to three minutes, the fight likely still would have ended. Following the break and another short period of stand-up exchanges, the fighters hit the mat again and with Schneider shoved up against the ropes, Kaufman pounded out her opponent with a barrage of shots to the head that Schneider could no longer hope to defend.
Incredibly, the smile that Kaufman is wearing in the first picture never left her face. She simply loves to fight. For that alone, a scrap with Meisha Tate would be very entertaining. But I think I can be forgiven if I don't give Tate much of a chance in this one.