Tuesday, February 23, 2010

B.C. Bio: Sarah Kaufman-- "Wherever The Fight Goes, I Plan On Striking"

B.C. MMA Fan's Josh Oliveira caught up with Victoria, B.C.'s own Sarah Kaufman ahead of her upcoming Strikeforce title fight. Sarah discussed fighting on Vancouver Island, training under Adam Zugek, preparing for Takayo Hashi, and, of course, her love of puzzles! It was recently announced that Sarah's upcoming title fight at Strikeforce: Challengers VI on Friday, February 26th, will now serve as the night's main event.

J.O.: Okay so, Sarah, for your fans around the world, can you talk a little bit about why you continue to train in Victoria, B.C. and maybe what it is you like about the city.

Sarah Kaufman: Well, I grew up here so I've been here my whole life and it's a pretty great place to live. It's pretty temperate and I don't like a lot of sun or snow so it's pretty perfect for me. Also, I mean, it's just beautiful and it's nice because it's on the Island. Well...sometimes that's nice because it's not quite as busy...

J.O.: Right, but one of the drawbacks of being based on Vancouver Island is the ferries and the difficulty of getting to the mainland. Has that ever been a problem at all for you, especially early in your career?

Sarah Kaufman: It hasn't affected my training, but it does make it harder to get to tournaments. If people want to compete locally, for the most part you have to go to Vancouver, which means either getting on the 7:00am ferry and probably waiting all day, or else going over the night before and paying for a hotel. So it's not as easy to get to tournaments, but it's still a great place to train.

J.O.: Have you drawn any extra inspiration during this training camp from Canada's Olympic athletes?

Sarah Kaufman: I don't have cable.

J.O.: Oh, so you're not too into it then?

Sarah Kaufman:Well, I do love the Olympics-- I just don't have cable and I am never home.

J.O.: Yeah, you must be busy. Okay, so after your most recent fight, when you faced Shayna Baszler last June, there was a lot of downtime. How did that layoff feel and was it frustrating that your fans and the media maybe lost contact with you for a bit.

Sarah Kaufman: Well, it's great if the fans want to know what's going on, but I'm kinda in the same boat. So, I think it can just be frustrating for both sides. It's always going to be one of those things, though-- you have to wait for the right fights. You can't just get over-anxious and jump at anything.

J.O.: Since the announcement of your upcoming fight, you have made numerous recent appearances on radio shows and have given many other interviews. Do you see it as part of your job to help promote the sport in that way?

Sarah Kaufman: I think it's a big part of the job. I also think it's important to have the fans know who you are and have an invested interest in you so that they want to watch you fight. If nobody wants to see you fight then you have no draw, which means why would a promoter have you even if you're the best fighter in the world. If no one wants to watch you, there's no reason for you to get a a spot, especially on a televised card. So, I do think that promotion is a big part of the job and I also think it's important for everyone to realize that we're just average people trying to do our best in MMA, in such a crazy sport.

J.O.: In the past you have described yourself as shy, but has this current media blitz helped you to become more comfortable at all?

Sarah Kaufman: Um..I'm comfortable talking to people, but I think I am really just more shy in terms of being around people in my off-time. So, if I were to go into a big group of people, I don't need all of the attention to be on me.

J.O.: I have to say, though, that you have done a great job and have been very articulate in every interview that I have seen recently. Is there a chance that there's a future behind the mike or in front of the camera for Sarah Kaufman?

Sarah Kaufman: It's funny. I really don't mind talking on a microphone or in front of a crowd. It's really just being in a crowd that I don't know and they don't know me that can be a bit awkward. So, who knows. I haven't had any offers or heard anything specific, though.

J.O.: Fair enough, can you talk a bit about your head-trainer, Adam Zugec and how he has helped you over the years to reach your potential?

Sarah Kaufman: He is the perfect coach for me. He is awesome, not only in his technical ability, but also in game planning for each separate person. He really takes the time to put everything together for a particular fighter, sees their strengths and weaknesses, and, instead of making a generic fight-plan, he comes up with unique strategies.

J.O.: Right, for instance, you are known primarily as a striker, whereas he is known, at least in certain circles, as more of a jiu-jitsu guy. So he didn't try to mold you into a ground fighter or anything like that.

Sarah Kaufman: Yeah, but he's also an instructor in Thai Boxing and an instructor of C.S.W. under Erik Paulson. So, Adam has many different accolades to help him bring together the games that are appropriate for people. I am just really lucky to have found him as my first coach and I really don't feel like I ever need to go anywhere else.

J.O.: So is it safe to assume that most of your higher-level sparring partners around her are the guys?

Sarah Kaufman: For sure.

J.O.: Be honest, do you ever take it easy on them?

Sarah Kaufman: No.

J.O.: No? So you just let'em have it?

Sarah Kaufman: I train like I would with anyone and they do, too. Everyone always has good days and bad days, so it's always just a give and take.

J.O.: Have you implemented any new training techniques for your upcoming title bout given that this fight will be a five-rounder?

Sarah Kaufman: With my last couple of fights I have actually started using an Airdyne bike, which I really like a lot, but I've prepared for five, five-minute rounds before for HCF. So it's really just making sure you have the proper conditioning and I really don't feel like I'm ever worried about where my conditioning is at once I'm in the ring.

J.O.: Here we are at the end of your training camp and I heard that you use something called the "water loading" technique to cut weight. Can you explain a bit about that?

Sarah Kaufman: For me, I am a big water drinker. I don't drink coffee, tea, juice, pop, or anything like that. I really only drink water. So coming up to a fight I slowly start increasing the amount of water I drink in a day. Just before I am ready to begin cutting weight, I will be up to 10-12 liters of water each day. Your body becomes used to having lots of water put in, so, when you stop drinking, it's theoretically supposed to get rid of water-weight faster.

J.O.: Fascinating-- it's like reverse-psychology for your body. A lot has been made about the fact that you and your upcoming opponent, Takayo Hashi, are ranked number one and number two in the world respectively at 135lbs. Do you consider her to be your toughest opponent to date?

Sarah Kaufman: I think every opponent is my toughest opponent to date because there's always that unknown factor. You don't know what they're going to bring or how they're going to come out. So that's really how I look at every fight.

J.O.: Also, in this case, we haven't seen Hashi fight in almost two years, right? So, there's really no telling what she has added to her game in that time. That said, given your either career (T)KO's, can we assume the plan is to force Hashi into a stand-up war?

Sarah Kaufman: Wherever the fight goes, I plan on striking. So whether it's a finish from standing or a finish on the ground, I'm up for whatever. I am really just eager to see how this fight goes and I hope that I can finish it.

J.O.: There has been some Internet chatter about Roxanne Modafferi being next in line for the title shot with Strikeforce, have you given any thought to her as an opponent?

Sarah Kaufman:
I think it would be a great fight, but, really, whatever Strikeforce wants is what I'll do and who I'll fight.

J.O.: And, as far as you're aware, they're still planning an eight-woman tournament at 135lbs.?

Sarah Kaufman: I haven't talked to Strikeforce directly about it, I've just heard whatever is on the Internet.

J.O.: So you know what we all do, I suppose. You have said in a couple of interviews that you are a geek at heart. For all of your four-eyed friends out there, what is the geekiest thing you're into that you're willing to talk about?

Sarah Kaufman: Ahhh...the geekiest thing? Well, I really am just a big fan of
puzzles. I will sit down and do jigsaw puzzles for hours on end, no problem. I also love crosswords. I will do them when I am walking and pretty much everywhere. I will even do crosswords in the bath with some Epsom salts, you know? Wherever I am, there's my crossword.

J.O.: Sweet, do you like the really difficult ones? Like "The New York Times" crosswords?

Sarah Kaufman: I'm not great at those ones, but I will try really hard. Even right before a fight I am usually sitting down doing puzzles of some sort.

J.O.: Nice! Puzzles definitely rock. Alright, well, those are all of the questions that I have for you today. Thanks so much for taking time to speak with us and best of luck in your fight on Friday.

Sarah Kaufman: Alright, thanks. Awesome.

Sarah trains and also instructs classes at ZUMA (Zugec Ultimate Martial Arts) just over the bridge from downtown Victoria, B.C.
Website: http://zuma.tv

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