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Canada's Kaufman ready for showdown with undefeated Rousey

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The Canadian Press
8/16/2012 9:00:34 PM
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SAN DIEGO -- Sarah Kaufman has heard all the fuss about Ronda Rousey. It's been hard not to.

Rousey (5-0 MMA, 3-0 Strikeforce) is the mixed martial arts sensation that just about everyone in the sport is talking about. Kaufman (15-1, 6-1) has been just about as far from the centre of attention as is possible for a title fight.

The Victoria native fights Rousey on Saturday for the Strikeforce women's bantamweight title at Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, just down the road from Rousey's home in Santa Monica, Calif.

Kaufman will be going after a belt she held two years ago before losing it to Marloes Coenen. But since that setback, Kaufman has gone 3-0, and her March win in a bloody slugfest with fellow Canadian, Alexis Davis of Port Colborne, Ont., put her in position to bring a title back to Canada.

But she'll have to go through Rousey, something no one has been able to do thus far. All eight of Rousey's wins -- five pro, three as an amateur -- have come by first-round armbar submission. And she's left some fairly gruesome injuries in her wake.

At a Thursday news conference promoting "Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman," the champion didn't mince words.

"I always fight the same, regardless of the situation," Rousey said. "It doesn't matter. I respect Sarah a lot as an opponent and I trained harder for this fight than any other fight before.

"She might not know it, but she should be thanking her lucky stars that MMA is properly regulated in California. If I get her in an armbar, I'm going to try to rip it off and throw it at her corner. If I get her in a choke, I'm going to hold onto it until she's actually dead. And if I get a knockout, along the way I'm going to try to pound her face into the ground and she's depending on the competence of the California (State) Athletic Commission to walk out of that cage alive."

Following the press conference, Kaufman said she can't be concerned over Rousey's attempts to hype the fight. But she also said she welcomes the opportunity to give an answer to Rousey's trash talk in the cage.

"People are excited for this fight, whether they want to see Ronda kill me, whether they want to see my arm ripped off or see me punch Ronda in the face to shut her mouth," Kaufman said. "Whatever people want to see, they're talking about the fight -- they're excited about it.

"(But) I'd like to punch her in the face. Or the mouth. Or the stomach. Just hit her."

Some, including at one point Kaufman herself, believe the challenger's shot at Rousey is coming four months late. Rousey won the title against Miesha Tate in March in what many thought should have been Kaufman's opportunity. At the time, Kaufman said she believed Rousey's brash talk and good looks -- she recently was on the cover of ESPN The Magazine's "Body Issue" in nothing more than pink hand wraps -- were what got her the fight with Tate.

Now, though, Kaufman is treating that as water under the bridge.

"It's all in the past and at this point you can't let your emotions and what you felt at the time affect your training or the fight that's happening now," Kaufman said.

The attention given Rousey has been unprecedented in women's MMA. Aside from the ESPN cover, the 2008 judo bronze medal-winning Olympian made an appearance on Conan O'Brien's show. And Showtime, which broadcasts Saturday's fight in the U.S., gave Rousey her own two-part "All Access" special.

Kaufman is OK with the attention, even though the same amount hasn't been coming her way. As far as she's concerned, it's helping sell the fight, giving her more opportunities to be prepared come Saturday.

"What she says makes headlines, and people notice it," Kaufman said. "She's going to say she wants to throw my arm to the corner, and people will run with that. People love that. And that's her style. That's who she is. That's how she feels going into a fight -- awesome for her. I'm the other stream.

"For me, what's at stake is winning or losing. I always want to win. I want to be the best. And the person that is the best right now is Ronda. That's who I want to beat. The fact she has the title is a cherry on the cake."

Ronda Rousey Sarah Kaufman (Photo: Esther Lin/Forza LLC/Forza LLC via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Esther Lin/Forza LLC/Forza LLC via Getty Images)
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