In mixed martial arts, crossover stars always grab a lion’s share of the spotlight but never has the opponent in a championship fight in this industry been this overlooked.
Ronda Rousey snatched the women’s bantamweight championship out of the hands of Miesha Tate, throwing her around like an untrained seventeen-year-old girl with over 400,000 people watching on Showtime, the seventh highest in Strikeforce’s history on the paid network.
It’s been five months since she was crowned the queen of the 135-pound division in just her fifth professional fight and her star has risen significantly since then.
Whether you have a collage of your imaginary future wedding with the Olympic bronze medallist on your wall or have her face on your dart board you cannot deny that she is one of the most watched stars in MMA right now.
Heading into tomorrow night’s event in San Diego, California it seems all the media attention is placed on the champion, and Sarah Kaufman is just the supporting cast.
Sarah Kaufman isn’t ever going to be a mainstream celebrity like Rousey, and she is fine with that. The British Columbia native isn’t swept away in a whirlwind of media attention, which allows her to focus on what’s really important when she’s locked inside the cage with the ESPN cover-girl, fighting.
Kaufman has made a name for herself as one of the finer fighters in this sport, whether male or female. The once beaten Canadian has been a professional fighter since 2006 having won and lost the women’s bantamweight title before Rousey made her amateur debut.
The 26-year-old was one of the first well-rounded fighters at her weight-class and became well featured on Strikeforce’s Challengers series. Whichever way you slice it, Kaufman is the toughest test that Rousey has ever had to overcome.
While I think it’s fair to assume that the mainstream media has forgotten Kaufman, I fear that Rousey might have also.
In recent times Rousey has taken aim at the currently suspended former women’s featherweight queen Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos – Friday night she was a featured guest on The MMA Report with John Pollock on TSN Radio where she spoke on the former champion.
She’s never had a fair fight in her life and I see how the prospect of that would scare the hell out of her and why she would insist at fighting heavier,” Rousey said, referring to Santos’ suspension due to a positive steroid test. “She’s completely defamed, and anything she’s ever done is nothing because she is a big old cheater and she’s been doping her whole life.”
When Rousey was a challenger in the 145-pound class she slung verbal tongue lashings towards the Brazilian champ to no response, but now it’s a different story – Today as Kaufman and Rousey stepped onto the scales at the weigh-ins Santos made an appearance, standing up during their photo opportunity to wave at the champ who didn’t seem fazed by the situation.
Santos will be free to enter Strikeforce’s circular cage at the beginning of the New Year when her suspension for stanozolol, a banned anabolic steroid comes to a close, and Rousey-Santos is a fight promotional matchmaker Sean Shelby would be salivating at the thought of making.
While I have no doubts that a fight between these two polarizing figures would be an injection of adrenaline straight to the heart of the Strikeforce promotion like this was a scene from Pulp Fiction or something, this should not even be on the mind of Rousey until she exits the Valley View Events Center with her title in tact.
Saturday night Kaufman enters the cage with nothing to lose, and everything to gain and if Rousey steps foot into that cage with any other girl or pop culture star on her mind, she might leave ten-pounds lighter without her championship.
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