Sarah Kaufman ‘surprised and not surprised’ with matchups for PFL 4

first_imgJoin DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearWhen the pairings were announced for this week’s fourth show of the season and second run of bouts for the women’s lightweight competitors, Kaufman was matched up with Samad, which led her to believe the two-time Olympian and promotional poster girl Harrison would be paired off with Dalziel, but that wasn’t the case.“I was surprised and I was not surprised,” said Kaufman, recalling her reaction upon learning that Harrison was paired with Frier for Thursday’s fight card at Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.In addition to having been told the winners and losers would be paired off, the idea also made mathematical sense to Kaufman, as the field of eight would then feature two fighters with 2-0 records who were assured of advancing to the playoffs, two fighters with 0-2 records who were automatically eliminated from advancing, and four athletes who have gone 1-1, which puts a greater importance on the points those fighters accrued in their regular season appearances.“When (the fight card) came out, it was like, ‘Wait a second — she’s not fighting a winner,’” said Kaufman. “In fact, she’s fighting the girl who is technically on the bottom.”Despite what seems like favorable matchmaking to ensure Harrison advances to the playoffs, the Canadian veteran is actually quite understanding of the decision to pair her toughest rival in the field with the competitor she beat handily two months back.“Morgan is technically in eighth, but you know, it also makes so much sense because it’s the story,” said Kaufman, who has been viewed as the ideal opponent to face Harrison in the finals since her inclusion in the field was announced. “We both fought the same person, so who is going to beat them faster? Kayla knowing there is that time marker, if she could get that win ahead of me and I were to get a decision, she could be in first place.“There is this whole storyline and this whole dynamic that can be created out of us fighting the same opponent, so I was surprised because I was under the impression we were both fighting winners, but then I was not surprised that if they weren’t going to give her a winner, that’s who they would give her because it makes for a great storyline and some fun talking points.”Part of the reason she’s so understanding and unfazed by the pairings is that having taken care of business in May, Kaufman knows she controls her own fate.As the only fighter to earn a finish in their opening bout of the season, Kaufman has a three-point edge on the other three victors heading into Thursday’s action and only needs to score a victory over Samad to assure herself a place in the semifinals later this year, not that she’s looking to play it safe and coast through to the final four.“I’m definitely very happy with the results and that I (have six points), the other three have three and then there are four with zero,” she began. “Those stats are great and speak for themselves, but moving forward, this is just another fight and I can’t really think about what’s already happened other than I’m definitely pleased with the first-round results and a second first-round finish would be glorious and something that I would definitely welcome.“I absolutely would love to go in as the top seed and I have those capabilities and I’m in a position to do that,” continued Kaufman, who entered the season on a three-fight winning streak consisting of victories over Jessica-Rose Clark, Pannie Kianzad, and Katharina Lehner. “Being at six points, I’m in quite a good spot where I’m not guaranteed, but as close to being guaranteed as you could be given that there are eight of us and how the spread is, but you can’t rely on that.“Ideally, you want your optimal matchup given that there are only four, but I don’t know who that is,” she added. “In a perfect world, the PFL would love for Kayla and I to be in the finals, meeting there, but it could happen in the semifinals and there is a very small chance that one of us doesn’t make it in, though I feel we’re both in a good spot.“They gave her Morgan which is going to make sure she gets into the (Top 4) and I’m in a good spot where I can make sure I get in the (Top 4), so it will be interesting to see where everyone sits.”Although she is a veteran of the fight game and has spent the majority of her career fighting at the highest level, the ZUMA representative admitted that her first fight week competing in the lightweight division brought some unexpected questions and awkward moments as she readied to make weight.Fighters are creatures of habit and when you’re 25-fights deep into your career, you’re used to following the same pre-fight routine. For Kaufman, that has always meant cutting weight and paying close attention to her diet.“I didn’t know how I would feel given that cutting weight is kind of a right of passage — it’s a regular part of fight week, part of the routine,” she said. “I didn’t know if (not having to cut weight) would affect my mental focus when I came to the fight.”(I questioned whether) if because I’ve been able to enjoy other things, is it going to take away from the training or the experience within the fight,” admitted Kaufman, who actually came in slightly heavier than Frier back in May. “Fortunately, it didn’t make a difference at all.“I was able to be really comfortable throughout fight week, make weight without a hassle and not over-eat because sometimes after you cut weight, you’re really trying to consciously be like, ‘I have to eat a lot; I have to replenish those calories.’ Because I wasn’t depleted, I didn’t have to go through that effort purposefully of ‘It’s been a couple hours, I have to go get food.’ I could just do as I normally would on a regular day. That was awesome and I was able to still feel like I was ready for the fight.”With the fight week questions behind her and comfortably in first place, in full control of her own destiny, Kaufman is eager to get back in the cage on Thursday, collect another victory and punch her ticket to the playoffs. “I was under the impression that the winners were fighting the winners and the losers were fighting the other losers,” said Sarah Kaufman when asked about the matchups for the second round of regular season fights in the Professional Fighters League’s women’s lightweight competition.In her opening bout of the PFL’s second season, the Victoria, British Columbia native and former Strikeforce bantamweight champion made quick work of Morgan Frier, earning a first-round submission win, good for six points and first place in the standings as each of the other three women to earn victories on the May 9 fight card on Long Island — Kayla Harrison, Roberta Samad, and Bobbi-Jo Dalziel — did so by decision. “Roberta is one of the more well-rounded fighters in the 155-pound division right now — she’s a jiu jitsu black belt, but she has sufficient striking that she’s going to use her striking,” she said of Samad, who earned 30-27 scores across the board in her bout against Moriel Charneski back in May. “She was on one of the stats from the PFL as having highest volume thrown, as well as the highest differential between her and her opponent, so that’s exciting for me as well because it’s not just someone who is going to try to glue themselves to you within the fight. It makes for a little more dynamic fight, which makes it really fun.“I thought she looked good,” she added. “As always, there are things that you see that you can find openings for and I’m very confident that I win this fight, but she’s not somebody you’re going to walk through in five seconds.“She’s definitely a game opponent and the only thing that stops me from getting into the Top 4 and the semifinals is Roberta, so my goal is to make sure there is no chance that happens and I’m moving forward.”last_img