Photo by Esther Lin for Strikeforce
Last night Sarah Kaufman gave female MMA its first "Rampage" moment. In the third round Kaufman countered a Roxanne Modaferri armbar attempt by lifting the smaller fighter overhead and slamming her to the mat-a picture perfect powerbomb. Roxy was out like a light and Kaufman had the dramatic finish she wasn't able to provide in a dull effort to win the title against Takayo Hashi in February.
This moment of glory, however, wasn't enough for Kaufman. In a triumphant victory speech she managed not just to insult Strikeforce, among the first national promotions in the world to take a chance on women in the cage, but also every other fighter on the card.
"Get me on main cards on Showtime," Kaufman said. "I think I deserve it. Put me on there."
Just last year Kaufman was plucked from obscurity by Strikeforce to fight on national television against Miesha Tate, filling in for Kim Couture at the last minute. It was a big jump from taking fights in Vernon, British Columbia, but Kaufman apparently feels she's moved beyond other developing stars like Shane Del Rosario and Bobby Voelker and all the other fighters she threw under the bus last night and earlier in the week at her blog:
Cookies and Man Parts …seem to be the 2 things that will get me on a main Strikeforce card…that and learning how to shake my assets. I am currently the Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight Champion…yet I fought for the title on a Challengers Card. Now, I am set to defend said title against Roxanne Modafferi in just a few days – again – on a Challengers Card.
I know that it’s going to be a fun and challenging fight…and I always welcome that. Roxanne has been around the sport for a long time and will come game to fight; however, I need to take this fight and make a statement.
That statement will be: I deserve to be on a main Strikeforce Card because I am a talented, exciting FEMALE fighter at 135lbs! I will NOT eat a ridiculous amount of cookies to make 145lbs JUST for the opportunity to be on a main card and growing man parts… well that would just be ridiculous :D
Kaufman, it seems, thinks she's too good for Strikeforce's Challengers cards. Remember the context here: in her last fight, also on a Challengers card, fans at the San Jose Civic Auditorium left in droves during Kaufman's fight, the purported "main event of the evening." Here is what our own Brent Brookhouse had to say about Sarah's big moment:
Women's MMA came out as a big loser last night. The fight was totally one sided and very uninteresting. It was clear in the first round that Hashi had nothing to offer Kaufman and the fact that Sarah didn't ever go for the finish just meant that fans were left with no motivation to continue watching. This was supposed to be a high level fight between the top two females at 135 pounds and rather than feeling like high level MMA it felt like watching a sparring session.
A woman who saw the crowd abandon the building like it was on fire in her last fight, in a sport that has seen a grand total of one woman able to draw a significant audience, was actually complaining about Strikeforce putting her in the co-main event of a nationally televised card. The ego on display there is staggering.
Numbers talk. And Kaufman's main event at Challengers 6 against Hashi was watched by just 150,000 fans. The next two Challengers shows doubled that number. Kaufman is in the right place-with other prospective stars looking to attract a following. And the Challengers cards are actually an enormous opportunity for Kaufman and other main eventers in these under the radar cards.
If she was stuck as the opening act of a five fight card featuring Fedor Emelianenko, Dan Henderson, or other Strikeforce fighters with mega wattage star power like Nick Diaz, no one would have talked about her for even a moment leading into the show. Instead, she was a major part of a slow news week. It's the perfect role for her, an opportunity to be the focal point of one of the promotion's nationally televised shows.
I'm not sure who is in her head, encouraging her to dismiss the enormous opportunities given to her, to bury the promotion that gave her a chance, to ignore the inconvenient fact that fans haven't yet embraced her-or females fighting. There's a word for celebrities like this, the ones who lose touch with reality and think they're a little bit more important than they really are: it's Diva. Last night was a great night for Sarah Kaufman. But judging by her speech last night, if you're looking to congratulate her she won't be down with the masses-Sarah Kaufman will be in VIP.