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Sarah Kaufman open to featherweight move, Cris Cyborg fight

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Sarah Kaufman is looking for a fight.

That shouldn’t be so difficult for the 12-year MMA veteran, but it’s her respected pedigree that seems to be causing problems for her. The current Invicta bantamweight champion and a former Strikeforce champion, Kaufman has wins over the likes of Miesha Tate, Alexis Davis, Roxanne Modafferi, Valerie Letourneau, and Leslie Smith on her resume, and she’s won her last three fights.

From her perspective, it doesn’t look like anyone is interested in being added to that list anytime soon.

“I tried to step in and fight (Irene) Aldana, my management team said that they weren’t looking for a replacement for that fight,” Kaufman told Luke Thomas on The MMA Hour on Monday, referring to an attempt to step in for Bethe Correia (who was not medically cleared to compete) against Aldana at UFC 227 this past weekend. “I had them contact them right away. Clearly, I wanted to be fighting. And then I almost was able to fight on the September card for Invicta as someone pulled out, but the other girl didn’t accept the fight, so we’re still in the situation of me trying to get any and every fight and all the girls at 135 saying, ‘No.’

“I don’t know what else I can do at this point. I’ll take a short-notice fight, I’ll book a fight, but the 135ers, they’re just not saying yes. So I don’t think Invicta has anything at 135 for me, so I don’t know.”

Kaufman is unbeaten in three Invicta bouts, having defeated Smith by split decision back in April 2013 before an uneven stint in the UFC. The British Columbia native went 1-2 with a no-contest, her lone win coming in a rematch against Smith before she dropped two straight to her old rival Davis and future UFC bantamweight title challenger Valentina Shevchenko.

Since exiting the promotion, Kaufman has picked up three straight wins. In her second run with Invicta, she is 2-0 including a third-round rear-naked choke submission victory over Katharine Lehner that put another belt in her collection.

With nobody at 135 pounds signing on the dotted line, Kaufman is considering a jump up in weight class. She’s open to following in the footsteps of former Invicta bantamweights Tonya Evinger and Yana Kunitskaya, who both made the move to the UFC as instant title challengers to featherweight champion Cris Cyborg.

And she likes her chances against Cyborg, a woman who hasn’t lost an MMA fight in 13 years, or anyone at 145 pounds.

“The last two girls, Tonya and Yana have both come in to fight Cyborg at 145 so if that’s my only option, I’ll take that fight,” Kaufman said. “I’ll be the third Invicta bantamweight to come in and fight Cris if that’s what needs to be done and I’m confident in winning that fight. I like Cris, I think she’s looked great in her last fights, but I’ve always been confident that in that fight that’s a fight that I can win, especially with the right game plan.

“If that doesn’t work out, maybe I take the Invicta 145 vacant title, I fight for that and then become the first person in Invicta to have two different titles. I don’t know where I can go, but I’m willing to kind of go anywhere and everywhere to try and get myself a fight and prove that I am the best in the world and I think everyone knows that. The fans know, the media knows, UFC, Invicta, they know that I am in that top-five at least at bantamweight, but these girls just don’t want to fight me.”

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