When EliteXC comes to Reno, Nevadaon November 8, 2008, a lot of attention will be brought to the main event, which will feature Eddie Alvarez and Nick Diaz going for the lightweight title. However, there is another intriguing match up of two females that could make a splash in the sport. Sarah Kaufman will take on Kaitlin Young that could propel one of them to the top of their weight class and in the spotlight of women’s MMA. ADCC News caught with Kaufman to talk to her about her EliteXC debut.
ADCC: Sarah how did you get involved in mixed-martial-arts and what made you want to fight? SARAH: I never thought I would be involved in fighting. I started dancing when I was 2, and continued all throughout high school. When I was about 17, a kickboxing gym, ZUMA, opened below my dance studio. I thought that I would really enjoy it and I did! Once I started training, I just couldn’t get enough of it. About 2 years after I began Thai boxing, I started the grappling as well. I really enjoyed the challenge of training, and thought I might want to further my martial arts experience by competing in a local tournament. I did a few tournaments, and then my coach said he’d been approached about a MMA fight with Liz Posener. I took the fight, and have been addicted ever since.
ADCC: A lot of female fighters face some discrimination coming up in the game. Have you ever experienced anything like that? Whether it be from other fighters or family. SARAH: It’s definitely been harder for me to get fights as a female as opposed to a male fighter, but I haven’t felt much personal discrimination. At a few fights though, I’ve been sitting around with my coach, Adam Zugec, and my corner, and have had others involved (fighters, coaches, fans) come up and ask my corner if he was fighting. When my corner says, “No”, they usually turn to Adam and ask him if he’s fighting. Finally someone has to say, “Actually, Sarah is fighting.” I usually just laugh.
ADCC: Who are you training with now and what consists of a normal week of training? SARAH: I train at ZUMA Martial Arts, in Victoria, BC. I have an awesome coach, Adam Zugec (Carlson Gracie Black Belt and CSW Instructor under Erik Paulson). He usually puts me through various workouts Monday through Saturday. Typically, I train twice a day, with one workout involving lots of hard conditioning, stairs, sprints, circuits, etc, and the second more technically based. Each day has a different focus, but throughout the week I will train boxing, Thai boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling. Its hard training, but I have a great team around me, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.
ADCC: Who are some of the fighters, male or female, that you look up to and that has influenced you? SARAH: I like a lot of fighters for different reasons. I especially look for fighters who are aggressive and entertaining. For these reasons I really like watching Denis Kang, Eddie Alvarez too. I also think BJ Penn is awesome.
ADCC: What made you sign with EliteXC and how many fights is your current contract? SARAH: I signed with EliteXC because they are promoting female MMA on the largest platform. They are putting us on the main card, and really helping female MMA grow. My current contract is 3 fights, and I can’t wait to get in the cage for my first one!
ADCC: Other organizations generally have three five-minute rounds for fights for females. What do you think about EliteXC having three three-minute rounds?
SARAH: I would love to see EliteXC switch over to five minute rounds. There is no reason why the women aren’t competing under the same guidelines as the men. Except for my first fight, all of the others have been five minute rounds, and my title fights were five five-minute rounds. I know that I can go the distance, and I’m sure the other women would be happy to as well. Three minute rounds definitely favor stand-up fighters, as there is not as much time to work on the ground, so maybe Elite decided the shorter rounds would be best to showcase their most promoted female? It doesn’t really matter what the reason is, I hope that EliteXC switches to 5 minute rounds in the future.
ADCC: Your EliteXC debut will be on November 8th against Katilin Young. Give us your assessment of her as a fighter. SARAH: I think Kaitlin is a tough fighter, and is extremely tall for 135lbs. She has crisp striking, and devastating kicks and knees. I’m not sure about her ground game, as I haven’t seen her tested too much in that department, but I have heard that she is constantly working on improving it. Mentally, it may be hard to come into a fight after losing 2 fights back to back, but I think Kaitlin will be ready to fight hard. From everything I’ve seen of her, she seems like a really cool person, and I’m excited to get to meet her.
ADCC: In a perfect world, what happens to you on when the bell rings and Kaitlin is across from you? SARAH: Ultimately, I would like to walk out of the cage with the KO, and keep my winning streak going. But I really want to put on a great fight for the fans, with lots of action. I haven’t fought outside of Canada yet, so I think this is a great opportunity to expand my fan base and get my name out there.
ADCC: Women’s mma is a buzz right now due to the exposure of Gina Carano. What do you think about her and her possible fight with Cristaine “Cyborg” Santos? SARAH: I think a fight between Carano and Cyborg would be really exciting. Carano has only once fought someone her own size, so it will be interesting to see how she does against such a strong opponent. Since Cyborg has an aggressive style, good standup and ground, I think Cyborg will win this fight decisively.
ADCC: Well thanks for your time Sarah and we wish you luck in the future. DO you have anything to say to your fans or sponsors? SARAH: Thanks for letting me do this interview Arias. I would also like to thank everyone who has helped me get this far, especially Adam Zugec and the team at ZUMA. For any ladies out there considering competing in MMA, I want you to know that it’s a lot of fun, but you have to want to do it for the sport, not the money!! Lastly, I hope everyone watching the fight on November 8 discovers I am a real contender, and that I’ll be around for a long time.