Friday, February 26, 2010

Victoria, B.C.'s Sarah Kaufman Gets It Done In Five; Sweeps Every Round

Coming directly after a questionable doctor's stoppage prematurely ended the Trevor Prangley vs. Karl Amousou fight, the main event at Strikeforce Challengers 6 had an uphill battle to get the disgruntled fans in San Jose excited. The world's two finest female fighters at welterweight (135lbs.) certainly did all they could to win the crowd over during a grueling 25-minute war of attrition.

Picture Props:

After watching Victoria, B.C.'s Sara Kaufman (11-0) rock and drop her opponent several times in the opening frame, many in the arena probably thought a finish was inevitable, but it was not to be. Nonetheless, the resulting fight was highly technical and very entertaining throughout, if not quite heart-stoppingly thrilling.

Most fans probably took two things away from the fight.

One is that Japan's Takayo Hashi (12-2) is one tough cookie. She absorbed a surgically methodical onslaught from Kaufman over the entire course of the fight and kept coming back for more. In a rare display of resilience and determination, Hashi somehow managed to have her best round in the fifth stanza after taking a relatively one-sided beating for the preceding four. Her many takedown attempts, which, as the fight wore on began to resemble pulling guard more than anything else, were almost universally stuffed by Kaufman's clear superior strength and her textbook sprawl-n-brawl. When a grappler isn't afforded a chance to go for any submissions you know she's in for a long night, but many lesser fighters would have cracked, psychologically at the very least, under Sarah's relentless pressure.

The other thing most fans probably took from the fight is that, after three consecutive unanimous decisions, Sarah can't seem to catch a break as far as landing her first finish under the Strikeforce banner. That's not to say she wasn't trying. At no point in the fight did Kaufman hold back, except possibly following a fifth-round eyepoke when she seemed to allow her opponent a few seconds of much-deserved respite. Of course, that didn't prevent her from sweeping the judges' scorecards to lay claim to Strikeforce's first ever women's welterweight title at 135lbs. Play-by-play announcer Mauro Ranallo used the word "coast" to describe Kaufman's performance, but all I saw was a very intelligent gameplan being stuck to unflinchingly.

It looks like the first challenger to Sarah's new belt may be the well-rounded Roxanne Modafferi (14-5) and there's still that eight-woman tournament in the works to find more contenders, but the champ is probably too busy celebrating her historic win tonight to be very concerned about that. In any case, it will be tough for anyone in the welterweight division to match Sarah's technical excellence and will to win.

Congratulations Sarah, you've done well by your chosen sport and given all Canadian MMA fans something to stand up and cheer about.

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