Not too long after Sarah Kaufman lost to Valentina Shevchenko at UFC on FOX 17 in December 2015, the former Strikeforce champion was abruptly removed from the UFC's fighter rankings. As MMA Fighting reported in an interview with Kaufman, the Canadian's contract had expired, and the UFC chose not to renew it after just 1 win in 4 bouts inside the Octagon.
"It's all been on me," Kaufman said. "I understand the UFC's standpoint. I just haven't come up with anything. I haven't done enough to be there right now and I get it. But I know that I should be."
With Kaufman exploring her options in free agency, she's already made the decision to drop to flyweight.
"I feel the confidence of, I know I can beat any of the girls in 135 and then 125 there's lots of great girls there, but again I know skill wise that I have all the pieces and it comes down to who is showing up into the fight," said Kaufman, who decided on 125 after taking a body composition test. "For me, I don't care who I fight, whether it's top 10 or bottom of the barrel at this point. All I care about is that performance and that performance being even close to my potential."
Kaufman described her split decision loss to Shevchenko as "disgusting." Valentina accepted the fight on short-notice, replacing an injured Germaine de Randamie. Sarah had previously fought Alexis Davis at UFC 186, losing by 2nd round armbar. Her top victories came in Strikeforce, where she defeated the likes of Shayna Baszler, Liz Carmouche, Miesha Tate, and most memorably defended her Strikeforce 135 lbs title with a slam KO of Roxanne Modafferi in 2010.
Interestingly enough, Kaufman was actually offered to fight Cris Cyborg at UFC 198, but the slot ultimately went to Leslie Smith. Malki and Abe Kawa accepted the bout on her behalf, but without knowing that Kaufman had suffered in injury.
"I wanted to take it," Kaufman said. "I was like, ‘Yep, let's take it anyway.' Because I think that's a fight I can win. I don't think it's just a big fight where you get paid a lot. I honestly think I can win that fight when I put everything together. So that's a fight for sure that I'd be looking to have."
Even though she's dropping to 125, Kaufman feels that a couple of wins could get her back into the UFC, and she's still interested in fighting Cyborg at a 140 lbs catchweight.