The battle between two of the best women’s fighters in the 135 pound division didn’t disappoint on StrikeForce’s June 19 card in Kent, WA. The back and forth battle gave Sarah Kaufman a huge win over Shayna Baszler.
After watching the fight, a lot of MMA fans can play arm chair quarterback and say what they would have done in the situation. On “Spoertsgeeks” on Blog Talk Radio, the fighters themselves broke down what they were thinking in the fight. What went right, what went wrong, and what they learned. Kaufman commented that her game plan was executed well, but was surprised about Baszler’s submission attempt in the first round.
“I think she did mostly what I expected”, Kaufman admitted. “I knew she was really talented in a lot of areas. We had a game plan going in and it panned out pretty much as we thought it would. At the very beginning; towards the beginning of the first; she was doing the Shayna arm choke. At first I thought ‘oh this is an okay position’ and then ‘maybe it wasn’t such a good position.’ Then ‘okay, I should probably move.’ I think that was kind of not
necessarily unexpected, but that move I wasn’t expecting her to do.”
Kaufman also realized she was at a disadvantage when it came to Baszler’s striking.
“She was leaning back and she was taller. It was a lot harder for me to get in without getting hit by her reach. I knew that was coming and I was ready for it, and figured that would be her game plan. She was going to do some stand up.”
Baszler had to change her striking due to an ankle injury during training, but it gave her confidence that she has knockout ability.
“If you see my past fights my stand up has been more kicking,” Baszler expressed. “I had gone away from Thaiboxing for a bit for just western style boxing. Then I hurt my ankle, it was like ‘well I am not going to be able to kick as much’ because I can’t support weight. So we took kicking out of the game plan. It was good to see I could stand and throw down with someone and make someone’s face look like that.”
Even though Baszler had went toe to toe with Kaufman in the first, her mental confidence made Baszler stray from her game plan.
“I felt comfortable in the pocket in the first round and I started the second round doing that,” Shayna stated. “I think mentally I realized that she was starting to win the stand-up war and taking me out of my gamestrategically. I started to realize the tide was turning for her. I felt I had a really good first round and everything was going according to our game plan and I executed perfect. In the second round I got a little too comfortable, and then she started to impose her game plan. Then my mind started slipping. Instead of switching from ‘okay sit down, settle down, let’s work our game plan’ it started going ‘oh crap, her game plan is working now.’”
Baszler’s psychological toughness was soon worn down going into the third round.
“I wasn’t tired in the way that you’d think. I was tired of being punched in the face,” Shayna admits. “I couldn’t flip the switch. I knew all I had to do is get mean and go at her. But I couldn’t flip the switch. It has nothing to do with us being friends; I just couldn’t pull the trigger. I was flat. It wasn’t (Josh Barnett) being pissed at me yelling, it was like him pleading with me. Cause he knew that I had it.”
Baszler did score a minor victory following the fight when it came to damage. Kaufman takes it as a badge of courage.
“I had a wicked black eye, it was awesome. I kind of looked like E.T.,” Kaufman acknowledged. “We were in the second round and I had her against the cage. She did two lefts going in and up and the way they hit they crunched underneath like my eyelids. The side of my face was all swollen. It was awesome. It really did look like E.T. on the side of my face. And then a week later it started draining downward, so the whole left side of my face is grey and green. It was awesome.”
Baszler took very little damage, much to the delight of her sister. But Baszler was a little disappointed to not have war wounds.
“I actually told her I was a little jealous because my sister’s wedding was a week after that and I was a bride’s maid, so I was all healed up by the time that wedding came around. I bet Sarah has the gross green looking bruising around her eye. It’s awesome to have at a wedding.”
Baszler and Kaufman both agree that their match should have been a title match, and that they would accept a rematch with each other in a heartbeat.
“I like to be in an actual fight. It’s fun,” Sarah stated.
“I’m not making any excuses for my loss to Sarah,” Baszler said. “Sarah beat me that night. She was better that night. I think if I got offered that fight tomorrow I would do it. And I would be just as confident going into that fight as I would going into this fight.”