Sarah Kaufman pitched a shutout in the Strikeforce “Challengers 6” main event on Friday, as she captured the vacant welterweight championship in a unanimous decision victory against Takayo Hashi at the San Jose Civic Auditorium in San Jose, Calif.
Scores were 50-45 across the board, all in the unbeaten Kaufman’s favor. The five-round affair may have lacked the desired pyrotechnics, but it was an historic coronation nonetheless. The women’s welterweight division finally has a face.
“This was an awesome fight,” Kaufman said. “She put up a great fight. It was really hard to finish her because she was constantly moving.”
Emboldened by a considerable advantage standing, Kaufman set the tone for the match early, as she dropped Hashi twice inside the first five minutes. Straight lefts, counter right hands and the occasional leg kick were her weapons of choice, as the Canadian piled up the points on the scorecards.
Rounds two through five saw little change in the direction of the fight, as Hashi, a decorated grappler, seemed content to stand and exchange with the superior striker. Kaufman, perhaps wary of potential mistakes, eased her foot off the gas and settled into a comfortable pace. She controlled the distance with her jab, defended takedowns and let her hands and feet do the work. Hashi, who tried and failed to pull guard in the fourth and fifth rounds, was game but had no answer for Kaufman on the feet.
“It was really hard to get a lot of clean shots on her consecutively,” Kaufman said. “I would have loved to have finished the fight, but I couldn’t have done any more than I did.”
Undefeated through 11 professional bouts, Kaufman has gone the distance in each of her first three appearances under the Strikeforce banner. The defeat snapped the 32-year-old Hashi’s eight-fight winning streak, which dated back to her August 2005 submission loss to Hitomi Akano.
“I want to finish fights,” Kaufman said. “Some people are just really hard to finish.”
Rockhold Blasts Bradley
American Kickboxing Academy prospect Luke Rockhold did nothing to slow his ascent up the Strikeforce ranks, as he carved up Paul Bradley in a one-sided middleweight tilt. The finish came 2:24 into round one.
Bradley, a two-time collegiate All-American wrestler at the University of Iowa, never had a chance. Rockhold -- who held a five-inch reach and seven-inch height advantage on Bradley -- dropped the 26-year-old Minnesota Martial Arts Academy product twice with counter right hooks and put him away with a glancing head kick and a pair of brutal knees to the body against the cage.
“I was surprised,” Rockhold said. “I really thought he would come in harder for the takedown. I didn’t realize he was going to stand with me to that extent.”
The 24-year-old has rattled off six consecutive victories and figures to factor into the Strikeforce middleweight picture.
“I want to get some tough competition,” Rockhold said. “I think I’m ready. I’d like to move up.”
Prangley-Amoussou Ends in Eye Poke
The co-main event pitting UFC veteran Trevor Prangley against Karl Amoussou ended in a technical draw 4:14 into the opening round, when Prangley inadvertently poked his foe in the right eye. The 24-year-old Amoussou informed the cage-side doctor that he could not see, at which point the bout was halted.
Amoussou, one of Europe’s top exports, appeared to build an early lead, as he used his blinding hand speed to repeatedly tag Prangley with punches to the head. The 37-year-old South African’s offense was limited to some brief clinch work and a mid-round takedown.
Tarec Saffiedine def. James Terry -- Unanimous Decision
Yancy Medeiros def. Raul Castillo -- Unanimous Decision
Wayne Phillips def. Eric Lawson -- Submission (Armbar) 4:27 R1