Exclusive interview with Sarah Kaufman

I don’t think I’ve ever been perfect at anything. I’m perfect at not being perfect. Inside the cage, Sarah Kaufman is perfect. She’s 10-0 with her first 8 wins coming via KO. Some people call her the closest thing to a female Fedor this planet has to offer. Kaufman is an unstoppable frate trane (yeah, that’s spelled correctly) and when she makes a stop in your neighborhood, we suggest you get on-board. On November 20th she’s fighting 12-1 Takayo Hashi at Strikeforce Challengers 5 but before that bangemite fest happens, Kaufman took time out from her busy schedule of demolishing third-world countries with her fists to talk to our interviewer D**k ‘Starscream’ Grayson about Machida’s karate, why she’s so dominate and how she’s obsessed with BJ Penn. Check out our interview with Sarah Kaufman, only at MiddleEasy.com – Because MMA is everything.

You seem like the cheeriest girl in North America? Accurate?Uh, it’s pretty accurate for the most part. You know, when I’m around people I’m gonna try to have a good time; and then I do like a lot of quiet time on my own as well though.

What did you do yesterday?Um, well I don’t sleep a ton. I’m generally up pretty early so, you know, get up somewhere between 6-7:30…make breakfast, pretty typical. Generally go for a workout in the morning in some capacity whether it’s just run or conditioning or weights or whatever is going on; and then usually I head into the gym, Zuma, where I teach and where I run the office and I’m usually there for about 12 hours a day. Um, then in the middle of the day I’m either, you know, teaching or running the office; and then training when I have time as well.

You went to college to become a Cardiologist? Why Cardiology?I’ve just always been really interested in the human body itself and kinda how everything works, and, just in terms of like dissecting things and putting things back together, I just think, you know the heart itself is such a big muscle. In grade 5, my teacher actually was giving predictions on what job he thought, you know, everyone would have, and he told me open heart surgeon and I don’t know if that kinda kicked it off for me, but you know it just, it really grabbed my interest so that was kinda [my thing] for a really long time and I was working toward cardiovascular surgery.

You’re a perfectionist, you’re rocking a record of 10-0. Can we call it OCD?Um, I don’t know if people would call it OCD, but in terms of lining everything up in the gym, you know all the pads need to be lined up hanging the proper way, not upside down, they have to be next [to] matching pairs. It drives me crazy when people put one pad here one pad there. Just basic things like that. I don’t like having anything just slightly out of place. It all has to be lined up and parallel to everything else and then angles.

Alright, yea, that’s definitely OCD.Only a little bit though, I just have to fix it…

Have you seen the TV show “Monk”?I’ve heard of it, I don’t have cable.

When you go out with friends, what type of person are you? I actually don’t drink, I’m definitely the one that—I like to ‘people watch’ so I generally stand in the background and kinda watch what’s going on for the most part; and then once everyone is to the point where they’re messy, then I’m the one that drives everyone home and makes sure everyone, you know is safe and gets where they need to be.

What type of college undergrad were you?Well I went to, like the university in my city, so I went to the University of Victoria. Um, and I took—2 years I completed in uh, pretty much the main sciences and biology. You know, so like the: biology, chemistry, physics, calculus, statistics, all the fun stuff.

So you’re a nerd?Yea, I am still a nerd, huge one.

What is your most preferred thing to do when you have nothing to do?Uh, it depends on how much time I would have, if I had a whole day, um…

You have 36 hours…If I have a couple of hours, I’d probably go—like we have quite a few good hiking places around here, uh you know, I get a work out in and I get a hike. So I like to go hiking, um…walking, really kinda peaceful to walk along, and other than that I am a really big fan of crosswords and Sudoku puzzles.

Describe the fight culture in Canada. Is there a stereotype of Canadian fighters?I don’t actually think that there’s a stereotype in terms of fighters. It’s funny because it’s a sport that’s actually quite popular for people to watch, but a lot of people don’t understand how fighters would be in real life. So, you know, especially in my city, it’s funny because all the local fighters, who fight in like all the small local shows, they kinda walk around town and people like know of them even if their record is…they can have a record of like 1-12 and it wouldn’t matter to them because everyone in town is just like “Oh yea, have you heard of this fighter, they’re the best person out there”, and then they don’t take a look at  any fighter that’s gone anywhere else and performed well in another area. So, it’s just funny how they, they’re very kinda small town-ish even though it’s on a wide scale.

That’s awesome if you’re a bad fighter.Yeah, I mean it’s great if you’re terrible. People just think you’re tough.

You’re also cross-training with Greg Jackson’s camp? Yea, we actually, we’ve kinda formed an affiliation with Greg Jackson’s camp. Julie Kedzie came up here in April and did some training with us and then we rode down just for a week in August so it looks like Greg is going to be coming back up here again in November. So it’s been a really good alliance, I think we feed off of each other really well. Adam Zugec, my coach and Greg Jackson, they’re quite similar in terms of their coaching styles so that makes it really helpful so we can kinda bounce off ideas for game plans back and forth, you know…‘what did you see when you watch this’ and compare. Greg is just an awesome guy all around so he’s a great great asset for us.

Any other camps/fighters that have impressed you or would like to train with?I mean, I think there are so many great fighters out there, and, I mean I think they’re are a lot of great coaches but for me personally I’m really happy with my coaching. I think that because I’ve been with Adam for a really long time he knows me really really well and I like how he coaches. Needless to say, I mean, I think BJ Penn is awesome. You know, I don’t know what his coaching staff or what his training is like, but I just think he’s, I mean, he’s just a great athlete all around and definitely has the ability to live up to his nickname. Um…I’ve actually had the opportunity to train with Dennis Kang in the past and I really get along with Dennis as well. Yeah, I mean maybe at some point I’ll go out and train with GSP or just go over and visit the camp you know I think it would be fun just cause we’re both Canadian and he seems like a good guy. Dennis Kang, done quite a bit of training out there and the affiliation with Greg so… yeah I mean I think for the most part that those are kind of the people that I surround myself with.

BJ Penn you say?He’s probably one of my favorite fighters.

Carano v. Cyborg, general thoughts?Um, I mean I wasn’t super surprised with how the fight went down. I would have like to see the fight a little bit more competitive and just a little bit more technical. But I think for the average fan it was an entertaining fight and, you know…definitely proved that Cyborg can be very dominant and that Gina has a lot of good skills as well. Cyborg showed up for that fight.

Coenen v. Toughill, any thoughts?I think that’s a tough fight; I think it’s tough for a few different reasons. They have fought before which was quite a few years ago. I hope Erin doesn’t go in thinking “Okay, well I’ve beat her before” and it’s gonna be a walk in the park. Marloes has been around for a long time and Erin has been around for a long time but I think for Erin, the biggest challenge is gonna be making weight. She is a large female, I mean she walks around at least like you know…170-175 if not bigger. So I think that for Erin, you know, once she makes weight as long as she made weight in a healthy way, I think she can be really strong in her performance; and I haven’t seen too much of Marloes so I don’t really know what to expect there.

Top 4 female MMA fightersUm, well I definitely think Megumi Fuji is up there. I think Shayna Baszler is a high-caliber athlete. Even though Tara LaRosa has been up at the top for, you know, a lot people say she’s the # 1 pound for pound so I mean I’d love to take the chance to fight Tara. I think that’d be a great fight. Um, you know, Roxanne Modafferi, she’s hasn’t been super active because she’s over in Japan but you know people are ranking her at the top as well, so I mean, there are so many talented females.

Name an upcoming female fighter you dig.Um, in terms of females, I think Kaitlin Young is definitely someone to look out for, she’s proved herself; her first time out she had 3 KOs within two minutes or something ridiculous, and then you know she’s had a couple of not so great performances but I think Kaitlin is gonna come back really strong in her next couple of fights. Lacey Schuckman she actually just fought for Strikeforce, I thought she was really talented when I saw her in January fighting and she’s just the sweetest person, so I really hope that she does well as well.

How’s women’s MMA progressing?I think what Strikeforce has been doing so far, it looks like they’re really pushing females and putting females other than the same faces on the televised portions of the cards. And I think it’s just getting more fans interested in wanting to watch the females I think for the most part that they really do bring an exciting aspect, you know, whether it’s the lighter weight categories or the fact that people feel they have to prove themselves that much more to kinda hold their own in terms of staying on the televised spots. But I think with Strikeforce putting a female fight on every televised card or as much as they can, I think is a big step in helping the sport grow and helping to draw more females into training and to get into fighting. If that’s something they want to do I think it will help expand the talent pool.

Are you advocate for 5 minute rounds?Oh, definitely… for me, I don’t see why there should be any difference. Yes, males and females are different anatomically and physically and you know…in terms of their abilities to compete against male verses female. But I think when you’re in the same weight category with the same gender, you know, everything is on an even keel. So those 5 minute rounds, it’s what the sport is. The sport isn’t made for 3 minute rounds, it’s too short. People think that the strikers have the advantage, grapplers have a disadvantage, people with less cardio have a better advantage. I just think it’s standard rules and I think that’s how it should be. We’re participating in the sport so we should follow the same rules that everyone in the sport does.

My sister wants to know: In a male sport, how do you feel girly?I’m probably the wrong person to ask for that. I’m probably, you know, definitely a tomboy. I wear track pants and tank tops and that kinda think. I’m not big into doing my hair for the most part because I’m always training so why bother doing your hair when it’s gonna get messed up? But I do watch “So You Think You Can Dance” on TV.

Now predictions…your predictions are pretty spot on.Oh, see I have trouble with predictions, they kinda stress me out but we’ll do our best.

We only got 2 for ya: BJ Penn vs. Diego Sanchez?I think that Diego is gonna be a tough fight for BJ. He’s a southpaw and he looked super impressive in his last fight, but I have to go with BJ.

Shogun v. Machida?I would like to say, Shogun…but I think Machida. I think that he has the ability to keep that distance and he has some very very good reflexes. So his style definitely works for him and I think it’ll probably work for him again.

Should the heavyweight division be split in two?Honestly I don’t think so. I don’t think there is a big enough talent pool to really break them up. I mean, I think for the most part, people at around 230, if they wanted to be lighter, they could drop to 205. They could drop 10-15lbs and then cut from there, it really is a personal choice I think for the most part. And because there is a weight cap at 265, I mean that’s—you’re not fighting someone that’s 300lbs weighing in so I think if people wanna drop they should just drop to 205 or they just fight heavyweight.

Thoughts on fighters pursuing movie opportunities?I think it’s great. I think it’s not for the majority of fighters, they’re not making a living where they can retire in 5 years once they stop fighting and live for the rest of their lives. So I think if an opportunity comes up where someone can promote themselves, especially in a positive way and they can make some revenue…I think they should do it. It’s a hard call because if you take the time off to do a movie you know you’re probably taking time off from fighting, who knows if you stayed in shape; you could have been improving in that time. So maybe someone who is 100% committed to fighting and that’s all they wanna do, you know, they probably wouldn’t take a movie opportunity.

What is the most tattooed major city in Canada and why?Oh—I’ve only been to a couple—probably Edmonton. Um, I think Edmonton, it’s typically…it’s a city that has a lot of like drilling and oil and that kind of thing going on up around Edmonton going up into Fort St. John, I think…Fort Mac?—Fort St. John?—Fort Mac. I think is what it is. Anyway, so there’s a lot of people that kinda just come down, they have nothing really else to do so it’s like, “Well let’s go get tattooed”. You can’t really go hiking, there’s not too many hills. I’m not a tattoo person so that’s just why I would guess.

What’s your medical insurance situation if injured?I would just go to the hospital and then I would show them my CareCard and say, “Hey look I’m injured, here’s my CareCard” and hope it would suffice I guess. I should probably know that but I think, for the most part, any injury you get if you can’t afford to pay for it they’ll just pay for it. So it’s pretty lucky. I’d just go to the hospital.

What’s a CareCard? I have no idea?CareCard is just pretty much, every province has a B.C. medical card or Ontario medical card, so for the most part I’m just covered under B.C. Medical.

Does everyone have coverage?Um, well everyone has like a basic coverage and then depending on peoples’ tax brackets and how much they get paid; we actually do pay into a medical services plan called MSP. So, depending on how much you make per year you pay a certain amount every month and then you’re covered for, you know pretty much all the basic things, yeah.

What aspects of dancing translate to MMA?I don’t know if it’s really that similar. I mean it has helped me be really technical and pick up the little things and the little subtleties. I was always like that in dance too, I need to know every little thing and why something is happening, I think it’s kinda my nature. But I was always really really particular in dance about that, about learning, you know, all the different steps, all the different techniques and trying to get better at all of them. So I think it just transferred all of that work ethic into my fighting game.

What aspects of teaching are you good at? Not good at?I think I do well in breaking things down and showing a different way to kinda learn things. If someone is having trouble learning it in one particular way, try to think of a new way of describing something; work with how they process movements and thoughts and learning. So I think I’m good at that aspect. I’m not—I would say I’m not always the most patient person…

That’s horrible, but you’re a teacher.Not in terms of learning, but you know, just on days, some days I need to talk to people, you know, I’m kinda around people all the time so just on days where, you know—it’s not a personality that I necessarily call up and say, “Hey you wanna hang out or go to a movie?” Sometimes I just need to work on…just communicating better with people that I don’t find it easy to communicate with.

You’re Canadian, I’m assuming you follow hockey?I know a few teams…

Sid Crosby or Alex Ovechkin?No, I’m sorry [unfamiliar].

Geekiest/nerdiest thing you’re into?Uh, probably crosswords.

You like puzzles and Sudoku; have you ever finished a Rubix cube?I don’t know how to do those, no I haven’t. I’m not a very 3-D thinker in terms of shapes.

Are you into videogames?Nope, not at all. I was a book reader, I just read books.

Top two favorite books?Um, okay, it might sound ridiculous, but “Where the Red Fern Grows”, it’s like a book you read when you’re twelve in elementary school and something about it, I just I—I love that book, and it’s the only thing I ever cried at; movie, book or otherwise and I don’t know why this particular book but it’s the dogs and then the dogs died it’s so sad. So I have read that book quite a few times, not in a bunch of years, but it’s a very memorable book. Oh and probably another book, the other book I’d say is called “Stiff”, it’s by Mary Roach. It’s a—pretty much it’s like a look at cadavers and how they’re used for, you know different uses for cadavers in terms of medical testing, and crash testing and that type of thing, it’s pretty cool.

You’re a cult figure now; once you blow-up, what are you expecting?I think I’m excited to just hopefully be able to fight on a bigger scale and be able to actually make more of a living at it and hopefully inspire other people to be like, “Wow, this girl who’s a total nerd who came from a not so athletic background has worked hard and really done well in the sport”. And I always hope to put on memorable, exciting fights I think that’s always my goal, whether I’m mainstream or whether I’m just in front of 10 people that’s kinda always my goal. So I just hope to blow up in the sense that people start recognizing that Adam Zugec is an awesome coach and he’s done a lot for me and our team is great. I think that with Greg Jackson being affiliated with us and with me doing better and hopefully, as you say, ‘exploding’…I think that Adam is actually gonna get some exposure in that sense as a coach and for how good he is. I’d probably say the least thing I’m excited about is dressing up for cameras all the time. You know cause there are more photo shoots, because I’ve never been someone whose getting into pictures.

If given two weeks to study for the Bar exam? Could you pull it off?Ooh, hmm…I would try really hard, I hate losing so I would definitely do everything I possibly could. I probably wouldn’t sleep for two weeks which means I would probably fail it…but I would try my ass off to pass it.

In one zen-like/yoda-like sentence, give us your philosophy on fighting.It’s the funnest—it’s the most fun experience in the world.

Best fight entrance you’ve witnessed?Um, what’s his name, you know the Japanese guy who always wears the wigs and comes out with the dancing crew…Oh! No, actually Mayhem Miller when he brought out the briefcase and had his mouth guard in the brief, I loved that.

Machida’s ‘karate-comeback’ and it’s possible MMA effectiveness?Uh no, won’t happen. I think…I mean, Machida yeah, he trains. He’s [into] Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he trains in Thai boxing, he just happens to be able to pull off a few karate stances and that kinda thing but for the most part he’s not really using karate. So it’s a no.

Fly, read minds, or manipulate fire? Which one would you take?I think manipulate fire. It just seems like a talent; I mean like, I don’t know, that’d just be cool to have a fireball in your hand. You couldn’t really throw it at anything because you’d cause everything to be burning but…you’d probably also have a high metabolism so you’d always be in good shape.

Any final shout-outs?Thanks for the interview, it’s been a lot of fun. Thanks for any fans that are following me.
Published on October 22, 2009 at 2:04 pm
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