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Fri, 22 Jul 2011 01:04 PM EDT

Strikeforce Challengers 17

Friday, July 22 – 11:00 p.m. ET
The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort – Las Vegas, NV

Sarah Kaufman (13-1) vs. Liz Carmouche (5-1)

Women’s Welterweight Bout
Line: Kaufman -215, Carmouche +175

The only thing better than a good matchup is a good matchup with an intriguing storyline. That’s what Sarah Kaufman versus Liz Carmouche at Strikeforce 17 has to offer fans. This matchup pits an established legendary veteran of the sport in Kaufman, getting challenged by a rapidly up-and-coming star in Carmouche, an ex-Marine. Is it time for the newcomer to take her place on the throne?

It’s safe to say that Friday night, fans will be looking at a future champion going up against a former champion, but who will the present belong to? In a squeaker, expect the underdog CARMOUCHE, known around the sport as the “Girl-rilla,” to pass another major test in her career and take down Kaufman. Odds.

Kaufman’s name and prowess resonates throughout the sport. She was the first and only HCF (Hardcore Fighting Championship) titleholder at the 135-pound weight class, which HCF classified as bantamweight. In Strikeforce, she held the 135-pound title, which is classified as welterweight. She became the first Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight champion with her victory over Takayo Hasyhi in February 2010 via unanimous decision. The jubilation was short lived though, as she was forced to relinquish the title after losing to Marloes Coenen in October, also in San Jose, by way of a third-round submission. The defeat is the only blemish on Kaufman’s otherwise stellar record (13-1, 10 KO). Scores.

Since that defeat, Kaufman has regained her form, defeating Megumi Yabushita via TKO in April of this year at AFC 5: Judgment Day held in Vancouver. Kaufman is currently the No. 5 pound-for-pound female MMA fighter in the world by and the second-ranked 135-pound female fighter according to the Unified Women’s MMA Rankings.

While the current title holder of the Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight belt is Coenen (who is also the top-ranked 135-pound female fighter according to the Unified Women’s MMA Rankings), Carmouche gave the champ Coenen all that she could handle when they squared off in March of this year in Columbus, Ohio. What made Carmouche’s effort all the more impressive is the fact that she was competing in only her sixth career bout. Carmouche pounded Coenen in the second and third rounds, but it was the champion Coenen who dug down deep to show off her championship mettle, holding onto her title with a fourth-round victory by submission. Carmouche performed courageously, especially for someone who was a late replacement in the bout to begin with, filling in for the injured Miesha Tate. Sports scores.

Now 14 months and a mere six fights into her career, Carmouche prepares to battle one of the legends of her sport. An opponent that she shares a major similarity with: they’ve both lost to the reigning champion in the past year. Carmouche is looking forward to the challenge. “I know she’s going to be a brawl; her (Kaufman) stand-up is really aggressive, so I’m really looking forward to that… I know her ground-and-pound is good, so it’s going to be interesting to see how we end up. I definitely think that we’re going to have to go all three five-minute rounds. We’re going to push our cardio, push our limits, and I think it’s going to be a nice show.”

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