by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
(Photo courtesy CFSeries.com)

While Sarah Kaufman may contend that she’s just your average girl from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, she’s far from it. A member of the ZUMA fight team, Kaufman is quickly becoming one of the fastest rising stars in women’s mixed martial arts.

Over the course of about two years, she has quickly made her mark on the Canadian fight scene, winning all six of her fights, laying out opponents with a combination of solid stand-up and devastating ground and pound.

In her last bout Kaufman defeated MMA veteran Ginelle Marquez to claim the Hardcore Championship Fighting woman’s 135-pound title in October, and now looks to defend her belt for the first time on Saturday night in Gatineau, Quebec. She faces the highly experienced Molly Helsel in a feature bout.

“I’m feeling really good,” she said heading into Saturday’s fight. “I’ve been training really hard and I’m looking forward to this fight and defending my title.”

As former UFC welterweight titleholder Matt Hughes is known for saying, a champion truly isn’t one until they defend their title, and Kaufman is well aware of this.

“I think especially the first defense is a pretty big deal,” she commented.

“Once you’ve defended it already, people understand that you can hold your own and are doing a pretty good job. If you haven’t defended it yet, it’s a little more pressure to make sure that you keep the belt.”

Kaufman’s first title defense will be no easy feat as she takes on one of MMA’s most complete female fighters in veteran Molly Helsel, who enters the match-up on a two-fight winning streak.

“I know that she’s had some fights where she stays standing, and quite a few where she goes down to the ground, but I know it’s going to be a pretty fast-paced fight,” stated Kaufman.

“I would assume that she’s probably looking to do a little more of the ground work, but you never want to underestimate her stand-up. I tend to like to punch whether it’s standing or on the ground, and I’m sure we’ll both probably end up a little bit bruised, but hopefully it will be a good fight.”

On a card that features former Ultimate Fighting Championship, Pride and International Fight League fighters, Kaufman knows the importance of putting on an entertaining performance to continue to shine the spotlight on women’s MMA and showcase the talent therein.

“I think it’s really important for me to put on a good showing,” she exclaimed. “One of my biggest fears is having a boring fight where people are booing and are bored, one of those fights that people want to skip over.

“I really want to make sure that I give everything that I have and put on an exciting performance that people want to see, and build my name up and the Hardcore Championship Fighting as well.”

As she continues to move forward in her career, Kaufman looks to continue to escalate her level of competition in one of the sport’s most stacked divisions.

“This year I really want to concentrate on improving my all around game, and also fight as many times as I can, and have good quality fights, keep stepping up in opponents, and get a good name for myself and keep my belt,” commented Kaufman.

“More and more women are getting added to (the 135-pound division) all the time, with some really top-level competition in the veterans. I love to keep pushing myself and try to get myself as far along as I can. If I can fight those top-level women and be considered one of them in the future, that’d be fabulous.”

At Saturday’s Hardcore Championship Fighting, the fight of the night could very well end up being the women’s 135-pound title bout if Kaufman has any say in it.

“I’d really like to thank my coach, Adam Zugec; and Impact Fight Clothing; they’ve helped me out a lot as well,” closed out Kaufman. “I hope everybody in the Gatineau, Quebec area comes out and sees the fights; there will be a lot of good fights on the card.

“I’m looking to put on Fight of the Night, boys beware – the women are here.”