by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy CFSeries.com)
Before undefeated Canadian fighter Sarah Kaufman ever got the chance to compete for EliteXC, the promotion went out of business, thus canceling her scheduled fight against Kaitlin Young in November.
Now with disappointment on her mind from only fighting once in 2008, Kaufman is hopeful to put EliteXC behind her, but is still unsure how their demise may affect her in the end.
“Right now, I’m really not sure how that affects me. Because I’m pretty sure there’s a clause that says your contract technically starts on your first fight. Since I didn’t have the fight, I don’t really know if I’m still really locked into a contract or not, so I’m just going to sit and kind of wait to figure that out,” Kaufman explained in an interview with MMAWeekly.com. “It was a non-exclusive as it was. In terms of fighting in Canada it would be totally fine. I’m just unclear of fighting in the states, whether I’d have a problem with that or not.”
The downfall of EliteXC may have hurt the women’s division in MMA more than anything else, as the company had placed an emphasis on the growing division by putting fights on their cards both on Showtime and CBS.
“It’s hard from the women’s standpoint that they went under because they were almost like the UFC for women,” Kaufman stated. “I mean it was the biggest stage, the biggest promotion. So to have them go down, it’s a huge step back. Just not having the exposure for the women that are fighting.”
What virtually all women fighters, including Kaufman, are now waiting for are other promotions to hopefully step up and fill that void, but will Zuffa, the largest MMA promoter in the world, make a move to include the women?
“I know PFC, they seem to be trying to step up. Hopefully they can get the women going. Seems like a pretty good avenue to start with. I think there are a couple of organizations in Canada that might host some women,” commented Kaufman. “I guess Dana White said he might consider having women if Gina (Carano) will fight for the WEC. How much truth to that I really don’t know. He could just be saying that to get people off his back about having women fight.”
While there absolutely is depth in the women’s division, Kaufman is understanding of Carano’s selling power and she hopes that will extend Zuffa’s interest to other female fighters in the future.
“Gina puts on exciting fights, or she has in the past, and I really think that there is a market for the women’s MMA and that people do want to see it. I do think it’s important that it’s mixed into a show with the male fights,” Kaufman said. “Because then you’re not shoving it down people’s throats, but you are giving exposure to people that might not otherwise choose to watch it. I think that if Gina puts on those good fights and if there’s a good response from it, Dana White would open up to having more women in there and it really comes down to making money.”
Other promotions like Strikeforce have also stepped up the game by promoting women’s MMA on various occasions.
“They’re trying to do it the right way I think,” Kaufman commented about Strikeforce and their promotion of the female division.
The unpaid downtime is of course the hardest part and while Kaufman has stayed busy, most recently competing in a super fight in jiu-jitsu, the ultimate goal is to get back into a major promotion willing to put the women back on the big stage.
One promotion, Palace Fighting Championships out of California, has shown interest in the women’s division, recently featuring a fight with Erin Toughill on a card. Kaufman disclosed that she was actually contacted about possibly fighting Toughill, but the weight difference was simply too much.
On the upside, Kaufman is hopeful to fight again in early 2009 and the PFC would be an ideal place for elite female fighters to land. The Canadian star has also been supported tremendously during this time off by her team at Zuma Martial Arts along with head coach, Adam Zugec.