Typically, when a promotional champion steps into the ring to defend the title there is little more than the actual belt being put at stake beyond, of course, the standard risks associated with competing in Mixed Martial Arts. However, undefeated Strikeforce female 135-pound champ Sarah Kaufman understands there is more on the line than simply gold and her health, or divisional standing, come October 9th when she looks for her thirteenth professional victory against Marloes Coenen in San Jose.
In addition to being Kaufman’s second defense of the Strikeforce welterweight strap, the bout also represents her first appearance for the company on a non-Challengers card – an opportunity that doesn’t escape the Canadian (who actually turned 25 today, September 20th).
Kaufman recently took time to speak with media about her upcoming match-up with Coenen, as well as her appreciation for the involvement of a female title-fight on the main card of a major event.
When asked about the increased spotlight the show, headlined by a rematch between Nick Diaz and KJ Noons with Diaz’s welterweight belt on the line, will bring to her pairing with the Dutch submission specialist, Kaufman replied, “It’s definitely where the title fight should be. And I feel that both Marloes and I are at a level that we should be getting this slot and we are going to be putting on a great show and I think people deserve to see it on a bigger stage. I am very happy to be fighting where we are on a bigger card for Strikeforce on Showtime and I think the fans will definitely enjoy the fight and I am not going to let them down.”
“I think it’s important for fighters to stand up for what they deserve, but you also don’t want to make your organization look bad,” she continued in reference to a post-fight, public request for upgraded event status on the heels of a memorable knockout slam of Roxanne Modafferi last July. “But I am happy to have said what I said, and my fight backed that up. Whether it was me talking, my fighting, or the fans, it all worked together in helping push the division in having the title on the main card.”
As far as her “challenger” in three weeks, the female welterweight champ expressed no issue with Coenen’s shot at the belt after losing at 145-pounds against explosive champion Cris “Cyborg” Santos in her previous fight.
“I am here to fight, and I think having a tough opponent in front of you is the most important thing,” explained Kaufman. “It doesn’t matter who they fought before, and where they just came from…and I thought Marloes looked really good in the fight with Cyborg. Who knows how the different weight classes are going to affect how she fights. Maybe she is more aggressive. Maybe she is less aggressive. We will just need to see what happens. My training hasn’t been any different even though she is coming down from a heavier weight where she hasn’t fought before. My training has been just as intense and I am expecting just as tough of a fight as I’ve ever had.”
However, while she was open to discussing Coenen, Kaufman avoided making a prediction or even stating ultimate confidence in her retention of the belt based on her 17-4 adversary’s skill set.
“Everything is going really well for this fight. This is another tough fight – Strikeforce has been putting together these really tough fights. I fought Shayna (Baszler) and I fought Takayo (Hashi)…Roxanne was really tough, and now I fighting Marloes. She is another really tough opponent. So once this fight is over and if I am able to defend this title again, it will be good to have a break after that.”
Kaufman is 12-0 with nine knockouts and three decisions in her career. She is 4-0 in Strikeforce, including a decision win over top contender Miesha Tate in May 2009.
On top of her bout against Coenen, and the previously mentioned main event between Diaz/Noons, the October 9th show is also scheduled to feature a much-anticipated clash between former Strikeforce lightweight champ Josh Thomson and newcomer Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante, as well as 185-pound action when 7-1 prospect Luke Rockhold faces seasoned veteran Matt Lindland.