If they gave a sportsmanship award in MMA, Sarah Kaufman would certainly deserve to get it. She's more positive than Joel Osteen and a slice of homemade apple pie.
But when it comes to getting a break or two in MMA, Kaufman is MMA's unluckiest woman.
The UFC recently decided not to renew her contract. That's the UFC's mistake. Kaufman may not have the glitter of Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, but she's a top female fighter and deserves to be in the UFC. Kaufman's biggest problem? She's too nice, too quiet and doesn't talk a lot of trash about people.
In other words, Kaufman is a good sport. And therefore she fades into the background. Bummer.
This isn't the first time Kaufman has been overlooked. She was in line for a title shot against Miesha Tate in Strikeforce but the brass there instead decided to give the title shot to an unknown Ronda Rousey, who only had four fights at the time, and only two in Strikeforce. Kaufman was 15-1 at the time and held a victory over Tate. She was also the former Strikeforce champion, the organization's first.
Rousey got the title shot and tapped out Tate, and we know what happened after that. Kaufman would get the next shot, and lose by submission to Rousey. It's obviously no big deal to lose to Rousey by armbar submission. That's what Rousey does.
So Kaufman lost out to Rousey for unfair promotional and matchmaking reasons. She recovered though, and eventually found her way to the UFC. Her career there, however, has been less than stellar.
Kaufman lost her past two fights, to Valentina Shevchenko by controversial split decision and to Alexis Davis, by armbar submission. Prior to that she lost a decision to Jessica Eye, but the result was overturned to a no contest after Eye tested positive for marijuana.
Kaufman's sole UFC win was over Leslie Smith. So her UFC run was something less than stellar. Lackluster, in fact.
But Kaufman is a Top 10 women's MMA bantamweight fighter. And she belongs in the UFC. She has excellent standup, and deserves at a minimum to at least be fighting on UFC on FOX prelims. The problem is that Kaufman is rather forgettable. She doesn't talk trash. She doesn't glam it up for the cameras. She doesn't insult anyone.
So when the UFC is looking to tighten up its division post-Rousey era, Kaufman got sheered off. Even with the cut, Kaufman was genuine.
Here's what she told MMA Mania:
"It's all been on me. I understand the UFC's standpoint. I just haven't come up with anything. I haven't done enough to be there right now and I get it. But I know that I should be. I think realistically, if I can have a couple great fights, I can probably be back in the UFC pretty quick and actually doing what I need to be doing to be back at No. 1. I'm happy to fight at 135. I feel strong there. I feel great there. But I think we needed to make a change at some sort. I think 125 mentally is a big challenge for me. That could be very helpful in producing the kind of kick in the butt I need to actually show up into fights, because my last fight was just disgusting."
She also said she would consider a catchweight fight at 145 with Cris Cyborg in Invicta FC.
Let's hope Kaufman can find her way back to the UFC. She belongs there.
(Image courtesy MMA Weekly)