Killing Me Softly

By Loretta Hunt Jun 19, 2009
God bless five-minute rounds.

What a pleasure it was to watch Shayna Baszler and Sarah Kaufman both enjoy the upper hand for a time in their 15-minute tryst.

Those extra six minutes allowed an intriguing story to unfold between the pin-point accurate striker and inventive grappler –- one that would likely have been stilted by the previously abbreviated rounds. The bout also silenced any doubts that women aren’t capable of performing in the same time frame allotted the men (though to anyone that has seen the women ply their trade in the last two years, it was never really a question.)

Baszler stole the first round away from Kaufman by taking the Canadian’s feet out from under her and implementing a unique knee-to-head choke.

But the 23-year-old boxer found her groove in the second frame, baiting Baszler into her world with crisp combinations off a potent low kick.

Baszler made a valiant effort in the third to balance the scales with a takedown dive, but Kaufman played an intelligent defensive hand and stepped out and away of every potential submission scenario without hesitation.

Baszler certainly laid a blueprint for Kaufman’s future opposition and showed marked improvement on her feet; her ground game is already there. Kaufman is now 10-0, and clearly one of the most proficient female strikers in the world at 135 pounds.

I watched the first all-female card in the U.S. in 2002, and I noted that the softer side of the sport was at least five years behind its male counterpart. I don’t think that anymore.

Watching tonight, I saw two distinct personalities and combative styles emerge –- and, just like with the men, that’s what will keep fans coming back.
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