Two of the most talented and dangerous women's 135 pound fighters in the world will duke it out tonight (August 18, 2012) as Strikeforce women's bantamweight champion puts her title on the line against Sarah Kaufman in the main event of Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman in San Diego, California.
Rousey has quickly begun to take over all of Strikeforce. She's hands down the fighter people seem to care about the most and she's been incredibly outspoken about not just fighters but other celebrities in the lead-up to this fight. We'll find out if she can avoid distractions next.
Sarah Kaufman has likely heard every armbar question in the book in the lead-up to tonight's fight. She's a student of the game and is incredibly powerful both in terms of strength and punching prowess. She's potentially got the tools to put a hurting on Rousey if the fight stays standing.
Will Rousey continue her rocket journey to superstardom with an emphatic victory? Can Kaufman rain on Ronda's parade? What's the key to victory for both ladies tonight?
Let's find out:Ronda Rousey
Record: 5-0 overall, 3-0 in Strikeforce
Key Losses: none
How she got here: Ronda Rousey had world class athleticism in her blood. Her mother was a world class judo player and Ronda followed her in footsteps. Starting early in judo, Rousey made it to the Olympics by the time she was just 17 years old at the 2004 games in Athens.
In 2008, she not only qualified, but this time she medaled, earning a bronze in Beijing but when it was all over, she was done with judo and wanted to try something else. She began training in mixed martial arts and made her amateur debut in 2010, crushing all three of her opponents inside the first minute with her go-to move, the armbar.
Upon switching to a professional in 2010, she didn't slow down, crushing all four of her opponents via first minute armbar, even Strikeforce fighters Julia Budd and Sarah D'Alelio at 145 pounds. With talk that she could be the one to dethrone the champion, "Cyborg" Santos.
Instead, she announced she was first going to drop to 135 pounds and challenge for the title there, and she confidently talked her way into a title shot against Miesha Tate, winning the belt this past March.
Now, Rousey is ready to take on former champion Sarah Kaufmant.
How she gets it done: Rousey is so big, strong, powerful and skilled, she just needs to keep doing what she's been doing and that is rush in, overwhelm her opposition and force them to tap out.
Since dropping down to 135, her strength advantage is even more severe in the cage. Rousey is brutal in the clinch because she's capable of tossing you directly on your head at any given moment.
Rousey has been working hard to round out her game, but why not stick to what got her here? I'd like to see her close the distance early and get in the clinch. From there, she needs to try to use her years of judo experience to leverage Kaufman onto the canvas.
While Kaufman is a pretty good wrestler, her third round against Alexis Davis proved that she can get tired and she was a bit lost while on her back. If Rousey can put Kaufman on her back, it probably won't just be the armbar that's available. She might be able to finish via ground and pound or a choke too.
Record: 15-1 overall, 6-1 in Strikeforce
Key Losses: Marloes Coenen (Strikeforce: San Jose)
How she got here: Sarah Kaufman got her start in mixed martial arts after taking some aerobic kickboxing classes and progressing from there. She quickly realized she was capable of some serious violence and began dishing out the pain on the local Canadian circuit.
Kaufman dominated the Canadian scene, winning her first eight fights all by knockout. Kaufman was invited to compete in Strikeforce where she would face Miesha Tate in her promotion debut, winning via decision for the first time in her career. Kaufman would go on to fight for the women's 135 pound title next, defeating Takayo Hashi via decision to claim the championship.
After an incredible slam knockout of Roxanne Modafferi, the Canadian fighter would lose her title to Marloes Coenen via armbar. When Kaufman returned to Strikeforce, she defeated former title challenger Liz Carmouche with a stiff jab and then put away fellow Canadian Alexis Davis in one of 2012's finest fights to earn herself another shot at gold.
How she gets it done: Kaaufman absolutely needs to utilize the strategy that she used against Liz Carmouche. In that fight, Kaufman kept her difference and just brutalized Carmouche with straight jabs. She's capable of not only making the strategy work, but Rousey could also get frustrated and leave a big opening for a heavy punch.
The other big key for Kaufman has to be not letting Rousey get up close and personal. Kaufman has to utilize footwork to keep Rousey on the outside and if and when Rousey charges in for a clinch, she'll have to use her strength and wrestling in reverse to get out of the situation.
Every jab scores points and if she can jab her way to the championship, then I saw go for it.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest factor has to be the increased pressure and scrutiny of Ronda Rousey. She's been on Conan, TMZ, ESPN The Body Issue cover and so much more in just the last couple weeks. On top of everything, this show is lacking in serious star power so it's almost entirely up to Rousey to get tickets sold and to have people tune in to watch her fight. How this show does will be very important in terms of what level of star she is.
I'm certain Rousey knows this heading into the fight and it has to be extremely distracting.
Bottom Line: If Kaufman can work her jab for an extended period of time, this fight could get very boring very quickly. That being said, Rousey has gone one round in every single one of her career fights including the amateur bouts. I fully expect her to charge forward and try to twist Kaufman's arm in half with a vicious armbar. That's what we pay to see and there's a terrific chance that it happens.
Who will come out on top at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!