When the Professional Fighters League announced its women’s lightweight division roster, the headline name was that of two-time Olympic judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison.
In fact, the headline on the official release actually said, “Kayla Harrison anchors new division.”
Canadian Sarah Kaufman, moving up in weight from her usual bantamweight class, is one of the seven other women who will also be part of the $1-million competition. But as she told the TSN MMA Show, she’s not showing up just to help fill out the division.
“I’m here to ruin the party,” Kaufman said on the TSN MMA Show. “I think I know what I bring to the table and that’s that I’m the best in the world. This is going to be no different in this scenario."
“Kayla, of course, is extremely talented – especially in judo. You don’t make the Olympics, let alone winning two gold medals in two separate Olympics, without dedication and talent, skill and athleticism. I know she brings that to the table, but I’m looking at she’ll probably be the person I fight in the final and I’m very confident versus Kayla.”
The Victoria native has never shied away from a big fight over the course of her career, having been in the cage against the likes of Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Jessica Eye and current UFC flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko.
Despite all the hype surrounding her, Kaufman isn’t ready to put Harrison on that level.
“I don’t think Kayla is at the top,” said Kaufman. “Kayla, in the PFL’s mind, is their golden star, but she’s had three fights. Really, I’m the one that’s at the top here. Yes, I’m going up weight classes, but she should be the one looking to take me off the list.”
Kaufman is no stranger to gold in MMA, having captured belts in numerous organizations, including the Strikeforce and Invicta bantamweight titles. This time, the 33-year-old is looking forward to the competition and the big cheque at the end.
“I think a million dollars is better than a belt,” said Kaufman. “Belts are shiny, but they don’t pay the bills. While I love fighting and I love fighting for money, ultimately I want to be the best. If I was only getting paid 10 dollars in a fight versus Kayla – I mean, that fight wouldn’t happen – but I would fight just as hard, regardless of how much I was getting paid.”
With the PFL joining both the ESPN and TSN networks, Kaufman sees the chance to have success in front of a much bigger audience.
“I just want to be fighting, but it’s a huge bonus to be on ESPN, be on TSN, for the publicity. Also for my sponsors, to be able to give back to them a little more to make sure that everyone, not just people that have a specific service, will be able to watch.”
Ultimately, the veteran fighter is keeping it simple.
“I like getting paid to fight. I think that I can win this whole thing and make myself a million dollars."