by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
When Roxanne Modafferi defeated Tara LaRosa at the Moosin MMA show in May, it was the perfect scenario to bring her back to Strikeforce and have her fight the current 135-pound women’s champion Sarah Kaufman. Now Modafferi is ready to come back to the United States, come back to Strikeforce, and then go home to Japan with a title around her waist.
Defeating LaRosa, who was widely seen as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the women’s division, put Modafferi in the top slot to get a title shot against Kaufman in her first defense. She was also excited to get the call back from Strikeforce after jumping up a weight class for her first fight there, now she gets to come back at a more natural weight and fight for the belt.
“I am so thrilled to be invited back to face Sarah Kaufman, especially since it’s in the weight division that I belong in,” Modafferi told MMAWeekly.com “Well, actually I think 132 pounds would suit me physically, but such a weight class doesn’t exist, unfortunately. So the 135-pound division is the place for me.”
There is a lot of mutual respect between Modafferi and Kaufman, and ultimately it just comes down to the fight for the two. Modafferi is looking at Kaufman as the toughest opponent she’s ever faced, and that is the perfect motivation to go out, train hard, and be the best Roxanne Modafferi she’s ever been.
“Sarah ‘the KO Queen’ Kaufman. I’ve heard a bunch of goofy ones, but this is how I think of her. I always think of my opponents as the ultimate fighter. Meaning, they will do everything right,” Modafferi said. “So I focus on improving myself in aspects that I feel need strengthening the most. I imagine she is a super-striking grappling legend, and I have to put every ounce of strength, cunning, and skill I have into beating her.
“People underestimate my striking. I’ll show them! I’m going to KO the KO Queen! Not to be all ‘Dragon Ball Z,’ but I’m developing new super-attacks for this fight. Watch and see!”
With the title on the line, many questioned why Strikeforce didn’t headline the Challenger’s Series card with the fight between Modafferi and Kaufman. The Japan based fighter understands the logic, but wouldn’t complain if she and Kaufman grab the main event spot.
“I hoped we could be the main event for this card, but I understand that it didn’t work out so well the last time,” said Modafferi “Women still do tend to be less of a draw for men still, so I understand if Strikeforce wants to make it a co-main event. They’re the business people. But I wouldn’t be unhappy if they also changed it at the last minute.”
Speculation around why the fight isn’t the main event has been pointed somewhat at Kaufman, who in her title fight against Takayo Hashi, outpointed and definitely beat her opponent, but didn’t seem to go for the kill at any moment in the fight.
Kaufman has come under considerable fire lately for decision wins in general, but Modafferi is confident that her opponent won’t have that problem when they face each other in July.
“I’d like to reassure Sarah that she doesn’t have to feel any pressure this time. I’ll finish the fight for her.”
(This article was originally published on June 16.)