Strikeforce women’s welterweight champion Sarah Kaufman is expected to make a return in late July – in a likely non-title fight – while a 135-pound women’s tournament determines a No. 1 contender for the undefeated title-holder.
That’s according to Scott Coker, who shared the plans with MMAjunkie.com (http://www.mmajunkie.com) over the weekend.
Kaufman topped Takayo Hashi in February for Strikeforce’s first-ever women’s 135-pound title, and the 24-year-old Canadian now owns a perfect 11-0 record.
"We’re going to throw that tournament at 135 (pounds), probably (on) July 24 or maybe 31," Coker said. "We will probably have her fighting on that card, and then we want her to fight the winner of that tournament."
Strikeforce officials have not officially announced any shows past its June 26 event in San Jose, Calif., which is headlined by Fedor Emelianenko vs. Fabricio Werdum. However, like that show, the late-July show is expected to air on Showtime.
Coker said Kaufman’s fight at that event "probably" will be a non-title affair.
The long-rumored tournament serves two important purposes for Strikeforce. First, it’ll give the organization a reason to recruit and sign top 135-pound female talent – with the promise of giving them exposure onnational TV via Showtime. Secondly, it’ll help Strikeforce officials build up and brand Kaufman, who – despite a perfect 11-0 record, top ranking in her division, and overall marketability – largely has flown under the radar during four-year pro career.
The non-title affair would serve as a sort of "showcase" for the noted striker and Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt.
Kaufman took her first fight in mid-2006 and posted the first of eight consecutive TKO victories. She then signed with Strikeforce and fought Miesha Tate (as a late replacement for Kim Couture) and posted a decision victory.
Kaufman then topped Shayna Baszler via decision a month later (her third fight in three months) and set up the title fight with Hashi. And though there was some contract confusion after her most recent bout, Coker said the fighter’s deal automatically extended with her victory.
"Sarah Kaufman does have a contract," he said.