by Brian Lopez-Benchimol – MMAWeekly.com
In a sport dominated by raging testosterone driven men with their high protein diets, it’s finally women who are now beginning to step up and take the helm. Women in mixed martial arts have been suffering from the same afflictions as those in boxing; there are not enough notable women to establish complete legitimacy in all organizations.

Scott Cokers’ Strikeforce has made an attempt to help the continuing efforts of the female persuasion to be taken seriously in MMA today. Case in point, the acquisition of Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos and the on-going negotiations with former EliteXC star Gina Carano (arguably two of the biggest female names in the sport today).

Kim Couture – who vicariously has become another big name in the sport due to her husband’s legendary status and holds an unimpressive 1-1 record thus far – was originally set to face rising female star Miesha Tate on the first Sho MMA: Strikeforce Challengers card on Friday night. The vice president of Xtreme Couture operations subsequently pulled out of the fight citing personal issues.

Miesha has now received a new and more experienced opponent in Sarah Kauffman, who maintains a perfect 8-0 record as a professional.

Tate remains un-phased, but also recognizes on the missed opportunity of fighting a big named opponent in a sport controlled by men whom have already established their own legacies and women who are fending for themselves to reach the same pinnacle.

“(Kim) hasn’t had the experience yet that Sarah Kauffman does, but she has a bigger draw, as funny as that sounds,” Tate began to explain on the MMAWeekly Radio show recently.

“It’s just a good situation if you look at it from that perspective. I’m not underestimating Kim in any way, but I believe I have the overall fight experience and I would realize this going into the fight. But now things are a lot different and Kim had such a big draw because everybody and my brother knows who Randy Couture is, of course. When you say, ‘Oh, I’m fighting his wife,’ and I’ve noticed that everybody almost, kind of felt like they personally knew who Kim was.”

Despite the change in opponent, Tate will be happy just to step back into the promotion, especially with the telecast on Showtime. She originally debuted for Strikeforce just under a year ago against Elaina Maxwell in a bout that Tate dominated from start to finish. Since then, she has had a spell of fights proposed and then ultimately scratched, but now seems to be settled in.

With women’s MMA slowly creeping into the masses, Tate is pleased with Scott Coker’s ambitions of consistently adding a female fight on every card. The 22-year-old feels that, although you have the UFC as the biggest promotion overall, it’s Strikeforce who is the biggest and best promotion for gearing the movement of women’s MMA in the right direction.

“I’ve said many times before; us women don’t have really anywhere else to go that’s as mainstream as Strikeforce turn to. So Strikeforce is really the equivalent to the UFC for us and I’m really happy to be a part of that. I’m really happy to hear that they’re coming around and supporting the women’s divisions as much as they are.”

With a more difficult task ahead in Sarah Kaufman, Tate understands the dangerous tools that her opponent possesses. Although Kaufman may not be a Couture, Carano, or “Cyborg,” Tate will treat this match as she would any other in order to propel herself to reach the same pinnacle in her career to be mentioned amongst some of those women.

“I know I have all the tools that I need to be able to win this fight and I’m confident in that and I’m confident in my shape, in my ability, in my training and everything. I’m really, really excited about it and I also respect Sarah enough that I think that I can be the first one to push her out of the first round and out of the second round as well. I’m not expecting an easy win, I’m expecting her to bring a really, really tough fight, but if I see any opportunity to end the fight early, believe me, I will be capitalizing on that.”