Sarah Kaufman is hoping to earn a bonus check at UFC 186. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Sarah Kaufman admittedly wasn’t thrilled when she first received the news that Alexis Davis would be her opponent at UFC 186.
After all, Kaufman already owns a pair of triumphs over her Canadian rival -- once on the regional circuit in 2007 and again under the Strikeforce banner in 2012. At this point, it would seem that the Zugec Ultimate Martial Arts representative would have very little to gain from a third meeting with a foe she has already proven she can defeat.
“I’m not pretending that I was happy about getting the news about fighting [Alexis] again. But I’m sure that Alexis isn’t that excited that we’re fighting again,” Kaufman said during a recent interview on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “At this point I am excited. When I first got the news, I was kind of like, ‘Well this is a lose-lose’ or people aren’t going to care...and all these kind of things where you want those new challenges and you think if you beat someone twice that that’s kind of in the past.
“Well, it’s gonna be a third time. I’m gonna get three wins, go 3-0 in our trilogy and hopefully we won’t be fighting again unless it’s down the road for a title.”
While the second meeting between Kaufman and Davis was largely overshadowed by Ronda Rousey’s Strikeforce coronation against Miesha Tate that same night, their undercard bout ranked as one of the evening’s most entertaining scraps. All told, the two combatants combined to land 274 significant strikes in a slugfest won by Kaufman via majority decision.
Recollection of that contest has Kaufman seeing dollar signs as UFC 186 draws near.
“The last time we fought was in Strikeforce, and they didn’t give out bonus checks. We definitely should have won an extra $50,000 for that fight,” Kaufman said. “If the fight goes how it has in the past, there’s a very big potential for a bonus there.”
That victory propelled Kaufman to a title shot against Rousey some five months later. The Canadian was expected to test the judoka’s standup in ways that previous opponents had not, but Kaufman met a fate similar to most Rousey foes, as she was promptly armbarred in 54 seconds. The next time Rousey stepped into a mixed martial arts cage was at UFC 157 as the Las Vegas-based promotion’s inaugural 135-pound queen.
“It’s a fight that I think, not that it rattles your confidence, but I know how good I am, my coaches know how good I am. I know how seriously Ronda took the fight, and I know how seriously I took the fight,” she said. “As soon as it ended I was like: Can we start over? Can we forget that last minute happened? It was such a whirlwind of me being calm, almost too calm, and then she did what she wanted to do. I didn’t. She showed up and I didn’t. She looked great and I didn’t. I think all of those things come into play.”
Kaufman believes that her losing to Rousey played a pivotal role in accelerating the process of bringing women to the Octagon. Had Kaufman won, that progress might have been slowed.
“I do think…Ronda doing what she did in that fight really opened up Dana’s eyes and the UFC’s eyes to, ‘Oh this could be something; let’s get these women in the UFC. Let’s make it the Ronda Rousey division.’ And so far it has been,” Kaufman said. “I think there is something to be said for if I had won that fight, would we still be in the position we are now? And I doubt that we would.
“As crushing as it was on me, I do think as the division and Ronda as big as she’s gotten, I think a lot has to do with her winning that key fight at the right time.”
For now, Kaufman is working toward getting another shot at Rousey, but she realizes that a rematch might not be in the immediate future, especially with the Miesha Tate-Jessica Eye showdown at UFC on Fox 16 likely to decide the division’s next No. 1 contender. That won’t prevent her from staying ready.
“Looking forward I really just want to have the fights that matter. Ronda is right there for me, but I do think with the UFC and how my fights have been in the past, and the layoffs that I’ve unfortunately had, it’ll probably be a fight or two before [I get there],” Kaufman said. “So hopefully maybe Miesha or Jessica Eye isn’t able to take that fight. I’ll get myself ready and if I don’t have a fight before then, I’ll try to step in if one of them gets hurt. I’d love to fight either of them and they both don’t want to fight me, so it works for me if one of them backs off.”