On Saturday, Aug. 18, the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight championship will be on the line as current champion Ronda Rousey will take on former champion Sarah Kaufman in San Diego.

The fight pits ones of the sport’s rising stars, Rousey, against one of its more experienced female combatants in Kaufman.

Once again, fans will be treated to a classic grappler vs. striker match-up as the former Olympic judo bronze medalist Rousey looks to continue her streak of first-round armbar finishes while Kaufman searches for what could be her 11th career (T)KO win.

Let’s take a deeper look at the fight. And as a reminder, this is a side-by-side comparison of how the fighters’ skills matchup against one another.

Striking: Rousey – 8, Kaufman – 10

Kaufman (R) (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Rousey’s striking is best described as developing or, at best, adequate. With her lethal ground attack, the young champion hasn’t displayed much of her stand-up game at this point in her career, but in her most recent bout with Miesha Tate, the undefeated champion was able to hold her ground long enough to get the fight to the mat where she wanted it. Expect the same strategy against Kaufman.

There’s no question who has the edge on the feet, and it’s the Canadian, Kaufman. In her 15 career wins, ten have come by way of TKO or KO. She employs a workmanlike attack with crisp footwork and boxing. Although most of her finishes have come due to strikes, the wins have been more of a product of volume than pure power. In fact, only one has come in the first round. The key to this fight is whether Kaufman can use her striking and footwork to keep this fight standing.

Ground Game: Rousey – 10, Kaufman – 8

Rousey (L) forces Miesha Tate to submit (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

Much the way that Kaufman has a huge edge on the feet, the judo black belt, Rousey, has the edge in the submission game. Between her amateur and pro careers, Rousey has had a total of eight fights, with all eight ending in first-round armbar victories. Only the fight against Tate in her last outing went past the first minute. Rousey’s fearless approach to getting inside, getting the fight to the ground, and locking up her go-to move is one of the most dominant displays in all of MMA. And to date, no one has been able to stop it.

Against most fighters, Kaufman might have the advantage in this area of the fight game. She is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, despite her striking prowess. However, in her 16 careers bouts, she has never submitted an opponent and the only blemish on her record comes in the form of submission. In what might be the worst-case scenario for Kaufman, that loss to Marloes Coenen not only cost her the very belt she is chasing once again, but it also came via armbar. Although she has wins over top-notch grapplers Shayna Baszler and Alexis Davis, Kaufman could find that Rousey’s attack may prove to be too much.

Wrestling: Rousey – 10, Kaufman – 9

Rousey (black shorts) throws Miesha Tate to the mat (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

With a world-class judoka like Rousey, it’s hard to only look at her pure wrestling skills. You won’t see her shooting for a double-leg takedown any time soon. But you can guarantee that if she gets in close, you’re going to see her opponent go for a ride to the mat. She uses her hips as well as any female fighter in the sport and when she wants the fight on the ground, she gets it there.

Kaufman has employed a more traditional approach to wrestling in her career. Yet, her biggest strength has been her ability to keep the fight where she wants it. That will be a tall order against Rousey, because a typical sprawl won’t help Kaufman avoid a hip toss or trip from inside the clinch. Kaufman’s strong base will certainly be put to the test in this fight, and it’s hard to imagine any scenario where she would like to attack offensively with her wrestling.


Kaufman (top) rains punches (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

There are a lot of factors that could affect the outcome of this fight. What happens if Kaufman keeps the fight standing? How will Rousey react if she goes past the first round? Will Kaufman’s experience advantage give her an edge?

It really comes down to whether Kaufman can avoid the armbar. Sounds like a straight-forward game plan, but executing it against Rousey is a different battle in itself.

It would be easy to call Rousey a one-trick pony, but until someone stops her, it would be naive to think she can’t continue her dominance. At just 25 years old, Rousey is the definition of a phenom.

Total: Rousey – 28, Kaufman – 27

Verdict: It might look close on paper, but the reality is that Rousey has 25 minutes to find one of Kaufman’s arms. Being that it has taken her less than a minute to achieve such a feat against seven of her previous opponents, expect the champion to retain her belt come Aug. 18. Rousey by first-round armbar.

Top Photo: Ronda Rousey is awarded the Strikeforce championship (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

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