When Sarah Kaufman was growing up, mixed martial arts were not something women trained in. So, the Canadian took the more normal route, enrolling in dance.
Years later, while rehearsing, an MMA school opened up in the same building and Kaufman’s interest was peaked.
Now, she is a former Strikeforce champion, is widely considered one of the top female fighters in the world, and the newest addition to the UFC’s active roster.
Kaufman (15-2) will return to the cage for Invicta Fighting Championships in April, taking on Leslie Smith. After that, she will join the likes of UFC champion Ronda Rousey, Liz Carmouche, Miesha Tate and others in the biggest MMA promotion going.
Kaufman was in attendance for the historic match between Rousey and Carmouche at UFC 157, and felt the kind of intensity the promotion can generate.
“I think for the sport, the fight couldn’t have gone any better,” said Kaufman, during an interview with Rebellion Media. “It was a very exciting round, and, for the UFC, I think they really wanted Rousey to win. I think Liz had a great showing, and I’m sure she was upset she got caught, but at the end of the day it was a great fight. It was exciting (being in attendance) and just a huge moment.”
Kaufman faced off with Rousey in Strikeforce late in 2012, and was defeated via armbar – like every challenger to the former Olympian. However, Kaufman feels someone will get the best of her in the near future.
“I feel it is only a matter of time, myself included, before someone executes their game plan and wins against (Rousey),” she said.
Rousey-Carmouche may have been the first female fight that many saw, but it won’t likely be the last. Female fighters have been praised for their skills inside the cage, and Kaufman believes the move to the UFC will only present more viewership.
“I don’t know the exact reason (female fighting is filled with action). Maybe it’s because females feel the need to prove themselves, or maybe it’s because of the cattiness that comes out,” Kaufman said. “For a lot of people, it something different. Not different in a bad way, not a freak show; it’s just different in a lot of good ways, making it stand out and be unique.
“Females come out and fight, and that’s what fans to want see.”
Kaufman is currently preparing for her match with Smith which will take place at Invicta FC 5. She is in camp-mode, but will be pushing the tempo in the coming days.
“I’ve been in camp for the last couple of weeks, but it will intensify a lot here,” Kaufman said. “Until this point, I’ve just been sparring, wrestling, grappling, working on a few specific things. Now, I will push it more and more to have the best cardio possible.”
But, the real question is, how do you go from a dancer to a fighter, Sarah?
“I don’t think many people have done the same transition I have,” Kaufman laughed. “I was just trying it out as something fun to do. It was a great workout, practical self-defense. I went from wanting to hit pads to sparring to sparring with other people.”
Photo credit: Showtime