Sarah Kaufman Talks Strikeforce Contract, Defends Track Record and Women’s MMA
By Kelsey Mowatt
Sarah Kaufman continued to move forward on her road back to the Strikeforce welterweight title last weekend by scoring a unanimous decision win over Liz Carmouche. While the Canadian’s title shot aspirations has certainly been a big part of the story line emerging from the Challengers 17 event, another is the fact that Kaufman did not collect a win bonus for her efforts.
“You know I’m the fighter and I don’t have anything to do with contracts,” Kaufman told FCF, while discussing the fact that she had to stop or submit Carmouche to earn a bonus. “I want to get the most money possible, but Strikeforce treats their fighters pretty well. You can always want a better contract but it’s not really up to me.”
Structuring a contract in that fashion is certainly one way to encourage aggressive performances and finishes from fighters, and although Kaufman is understandably disappointed that she was unable to stop Carmouche, the 14-1 fighter is still happy with her victory nonetheless.
“I would have loved to have got the finish as finishes are exciting but at the same time I knew that Liz was going to be a tough fight,” said Kaufman, who has now won two straight fights since she lost the 135lb. championship to Marloes Coenen last October. “She definitely proved to be a tough competitor. I wasn’t surprised by that. Overall I’m pretty happy how everything went…The game plan Adam Zugec and Greg Jackson came up with was very effective and I got a very dominant win.”
Of Kaufman’s five Strikeforce victories, four have come via decision, which depending on the bout can be a result that some fans decry.
“Honestly I think that my fight with Liz was very entertaining,” said Kaufman, who prior to facing Carmouche stopped Megumi Yabushita while competing for Armageddon Fighting Championships in April. “I did what I could and it’s a matter of how people fight a lot of times which affects how my fights develop. My Takayo Hashi fight was an extreme domination and there wasn’t much more than I could have done to change the fight, other than my opponent engaging a bit more.”
“A lot of people if they can’t take me down they back up and don’t really engage,” Kaufman added. “I think how I fight is an entertaining fight and that’s what people want to see. They want to see strikes being thrown.”
While the profile of women’s MMA continues to grow, evidenced by the fact that this Saturday’s Strikeforce card will feature welterweight champ Coenen taking on challenger Miesha Tate in the co-main-event, the question has been raised as to whether women still face a double standard in terms of fan expectations.
“I think it’s important for women to put on that show, to keep the fans interested,” said Kaufman. “I think some fans don’t really take the time to give it a chance; they think that if it’s not a slugfest then it’s not a good fight, which honestly is ridiculous.”
While for some time Strikeforce has been a clear and vocal supporter of women’s MMA by promoting numerous, high profile bouts, when the promotion was purchased by UFC parent company Zuffa, concerns were raised as to whether the company would continue to support the sport.
“I think Zuffa is really trying to make an effort with the sport,” said Kaufman, who has been a vocal proponent for women’s MMA to be showcased on major cards. “They just signed Julie Kedzie and Alexis Davis to a bout…There are a lot of other female fighters that they’re looking to bring in. That’s positive signs. I kind of attribute Miesha and Marloes being on the main card partially due to me being on the Challengers cards so many times and really fighting to have that title put on the main card.”
Up next, it’s expected that Kaufman will face the winner of this Saturday’s bout between Coenen and Tate, and the former champ isn’t shy about stating who she prefers to face.
“Absolutely if I had the choice I’d like to take Marloes,” Kaufman said. “I already beat Miesha and Marloes is the one that took my title, and gave me the loss. To be able to get the title back, from the one person that beat me, would be pretty satisfying.”
“I think it’s going to be a tough fight and I could see it going to decision,” Kaufman added. “I’m heading out to Chicago, live for the fight, and I’m going to be right there when the winner is announced to say ‘I want to fight her.’”