MM-Eh: Women’s Top Dog Kaufman Out in Cold

By Andy Cotterill Aug 14, 2008
When you talk to Victoria, British Columbia’s Sarah Kaufman (Pictures) these days she’ll tell you one thing.

She just wants to fight.

Widely regarded as Canada’s premier female fighter, the 22-year-old Kaufman (7-0) was in the midst of a six-fight contract with Hardcore Championship Fighting when the promising organization folded earlier this year. Kaufman has been trying to get back into the cage ever since.

Easier said than done, as manager Keith Crawford told Sherdog.com that he’s having a difficult time getting anyone to take Kaufman on as an opponent, a result of her reputation for being a powerful and tenacious fighter who never gives up.

“I think part of the problem is we are kind of in the Great White here, and she hasn’t had the exposure of a Gina Carano (Pictures),” said Kaufman’s trainer Adam Zugec. “Tara Larosa (Pictures) has been pretty open about just how good she thinks Sarah is. I think it’s ridiculous that people don’t know her, I mean I think that she’s won out of seven fights, four times she’s won fighter of the night. She’s unbelievable to anyone who has seen her fight.”

Idle since March when she scored a TKO victory over Molly Helsel (Pictures) at HCF “Crow’s Nest,” Kaufman has been not so patiently spending her days training and teaching at ZUMA Gym in Victoria, where she makes her living teaching classes, as well as acting as office manager.

“I just want to fight, and I’m getting really antsy that no one is stepping up to sign me,” said Kaufman. “All of these people are ‘We want you, we want you!’ Then suddenly ‘Maybe we don’t’ or ‘We’re actually not sure.’ I personally don’t know if they see my fights and they’re not sure if they want me to go against their girls. It’s frustrating for me because I just want to fight.”

As aggravated as she is, Kaufman admitted that this is a great time for female fighters, especially with the exposure that women have been getting lately.

“Right now EliteXC is obviously the biggest organization for women’s MMA –- it’s on CBS and putting women in the forefront, which can only help the sport grow. Definitely EliteXC is a big show to be on so I’d love to be on one of their live shows.”

It’s difficult to mention EliteXC and women’s MMA and not talk about Gina Carano (Pictures), dubbed “The Face of Women’s MMA” with good reason.

“Whatever people say about Gina, it is really unfortunate that she doesn’t make weight,” said Kaufman. “It brings, I think, a little bit of unprofessionalism and critique to the women’s side, but she fights, well everyone has seen her fights and they’re great. She’s put on good fights, she’s shown up, and even if she’s out of shape she still pulls it off. She’s done a lot for the sport so I don’t think people can give her too much flack.”

Zugec, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Marcus Soares, gave an example of the type of dedication that Kaufman has shown her craft, and why he believes she’ll succeed.

“I think something that sums her up perfectly,” said Zugec, “after her last fight with Molly Helsel (Pictures), Molly was in the hotel lobby the next morning wondering where Sarah was because she was getting ready to leave, and Sarah came running into the lobby because she went out for a jog. That’s the kind of athlete she is, she was preparing the next day for her next fight. I think it’s time for her to be in the big leagues.”

MacDonald: Maia game plan went out window

Going into his bout with Brazilian jiu-jitsu stylist Demian Maia (Pictures) at last weekend’s UFC 87 in Minneapolis, Red Deer, Alberta’s Jason MacDonald (Pictures) knew that it would be in his best interest to keep the fight where Maia would feel least comfortable –- on its feet. The game plan that Macdonald and trainers Josh Russell and Mark Pavelich came up with was what fans and pundits alike expected -- to let his fists fly and try to knock Maia out.

So it came as a surprise to everyone, especially MacDonald, when he repeatedly went to the canvas and tried to out-grapple his middleweight opponent.

“I’ve asked myself the question at least a thousand times why I decided to fight that guy on the ground and I can’t answer it,” MacDonald told Sherdog.com. “I fought the opposite fight of what we trained to do. All training camp we prepared to fight Demian Maia (Pictures) standing up and that’s what is driving me nuts.”

MacDonald, who has nailed some impressive submissions of his own in the Octagon in past bouts, found himself in an out-of-body experience.

“As the fight started right up until the bell went, I thought I’m going to go out there and knock this guy’s head off and the next thing you know we’re having a jiu-jitsu match on the ground and I was doing everything I didn’t want to do,” recalled MacDonald. “I feel bad for my trainers –- they were screaming at me to keep the fight standing and for the first time in my life I’m totally not listening to them. I’m hearing what they’re saying and I’m totally not listening to what they’re saying.”

Macdonald survived a first-round onslaught from the Abu Dhabi World Submission Grappling Champion, which included a potentially fight-ending triangle choke and a rear-naked choke attempt that went to the bell.

“After the first round Josh and Mark were like ‘OK Jay, he’s tired and worn out. You made it through the first round, you weren’t doing the game plan but let’s go out there and do what we trained to do,’” said MacDonald. “Next thing you know I’m out there in a grappling match with him again.”

But the submission that MacDonald couldn’t avoid was the rear-naked choke that Maia secured in the third round.

“At that point I was starting to go out and starting to see black spots. I was starting to lose consciousness,” said MacDonald. “For me, I try to wait until the last possible second before I have to tap. I can only speak for myself, but there are some people that as soon as the submission gets put on they panic and just start tapping. I try to stay patient and try to work my way out.”

Maia coaxed out the tapout, however, and MacDonald had to settle with secondary honors for fight of the night behind UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre (Pictures)’s five-round walloping of John Fitch in the main event.

“It was an exciting fight for the fans from everything I hear and read, but at the end of the day it’s still a loss,” said MacDonald. ”I appreciate the support and I appreciate that people really enjoyed it. That’s one of my goals when I fight is to put on a good performance, but at the end of the day I want to walk away with a win.”

MacDonald has yet to be contacted for another bout in the Octagon or elsewhere.

UFC’s Canadian encore

UFC President Dana White spent some time in Toronto last week on a whirlwind promotional tour in advance of UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre (Pictures)’s fight against Jon Fitch (Pictures) in Minneapolis last weekend.

White got many Canadian MMA fans excited when he told the Canadian Press on Aug. 6 that the UFC hoped to come back to Montreal, possibly in November or December.

As great as this news is, it’s probably not going to happen. White all but confirmed at UFC 87’s post-fight press conference that Montreal native St. Pierre will take on lightweight champion BJ Penn in a superfight likely to headline the UFC’s year-end event on Dec. 27 in Las Vegas.

The UFC made its Canadian debut with UFC 83 “Serra vs. St. Pierre II” on April 19 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The record-breaking event drew 21,390 attendees for a reported 5.1 million dollar gate.

Canadian Calendar

Aug 23: Elite #1 "Showdown at the Dome" - Dundee Sportsdome - Moncton, New Brunswick
Aug 29: The Fight Club 4 – Shaw Conference Centre – Edmonton, Alberta
Sep 5: UGC 21 - Pierre-Charbonneau Centre - Montreal, Quebec
Sep 6: Fighters Nation 2 – Calgary Corral - Calgary, Alberta
Sep 13: XMMA 5- Compexe Sportif Claude-Robillard - Montreal, Quebec
Sep 18: KOTC – Northlands Agricom Hall D – Edmonton, Alberta
Sep 20: ECC 8 – Halifax Forum - Halifax, Nova Scotia
Sep 26: MFC 18 "Famous" – River Cree Resort and Casino - Edmonton, Alberta
Sep 27: IMMAC 5 – I.L.A. Sports Arena – Hagersville, Ontario
Oct 3: TKO 35 – Bell Centre - Montreal, Quebec
Oct 4: X-Fights - Moncton, New Brunswick
Oct 11: XFC Extreme Fighting Challenge 6 - CN Centre, Prince George, British Columbia
Oct 18: KOTC - Frank Crane Arena - Nanaimo, British Columbia
Nov 22: Phoenix Fight Promotions 5 – Dartmouth Sportsplex - Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Nov 28: MFC 19 "Long Time Coming" – River Cree Resort and Casino - Edmonton, Alberta
Dec 5: TKO 36 – Bell Centre - Montreal, Quebec
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