Defeated Coenen Defends Immediate Title Shot


After her third-round knockout win over Roxanne Modafferi in July, Strikeforce 135-pound women's champion Sarah Kaufman said she should be fighting on one of Strikeforce's main card, not in a Challengers event.

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker listened to Kaufman and now her second title defense, against Dutch fighter Marloes Coenen, is set for Strikeforce's Oct. 9 card at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

"It's definitely where the title fight should be and we should be getting main-card slots," said Kaufman during a conference call Friday to promote the event. "People should be seeing us. I'm glad to be fighting on the bigger cards. I have to thank Showtime, Strikeforce and the fans who pushed for this."

It's not often that a promotion's champion is so outspoken about perceived mistreatments by the promotion they represent, but Kaufman said she felt that she needed to speak her mind following the win over Modafferi. The Modafferi victory was Kaufman's fourth straight appearance in the Challengers series, following wins over Miesha Tate, Shayna Baszler and Takayo Hashi.

"It's important for fighters to stand up for what deserve," said the 24-year-old Kaufman, who is perfect in 12 professional mixed martial arts fights. "I'm happy I said what I said and my fight backed up what I said up. Whether it was the fans' reaction (to the knockout), the fact the highlight ran on ESPN or whatever, it helped push it onto the main card."

The Coenen fight will be Kaufman's fifth since May 2009 and she said she was happy Coker has been keeping her busy against quality opposition.

"This is another tough fight," said Kaufman, who has nine knockouts among her 12 wins. "Strikeforce has been putting me in there against some tough fighters. My last four fights have been tough but I can't ask for much more from Strikeforce."

Coenen, who has 15 finishes (three knockouts, 12 submissions) among her 17 wins, has lost two of her last three fights. However, her most recent setback was a third-round knockout stoppage at the hands of pound-for-pound standout Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos in a January bid for the Strikeforce 145-pound title.

"I think the referee stopped the Cyborg fight too soon," said Coenen, who has never been submitted in 21 MMA bouts. "If the referee had been a woman, the fight wouldn't have been stopped that fast. I'm very blessed to get two title shots in a row, but I've never fought (at 135 pounds), so that's a challenge. I'm looking forward to this fight."

Some followers of MMA have been critical of Strikeforce for giving the 29-year-old Coenen an immediate title shot since she was knocked out by Santos in her last fight. In addition, Tate won a one-night tournament in August to earn a title shot of her own.

Coenen pointed out her long fight career -- her pro debut was in November 2000 -- and the fact she was willing to take on Santos as reasons she should get a title fight with Kaufman ahead of Tate.

"I've been fighting for 10 years, so I do think proven myself," said Coenen. "I fought (Santos) and gave her a tough fight. I don't feel the criticism is valid."

Coenen said the loss to Santos taught her some lessons she hopes to implement against Kaufman in what could be a stand-up war.

"I stepped in (against Santos) thinking I could knock her out and it didn't work out," said Coenen. "But I've proven to myself I can take a punch and in a way, that makes you feel good. This was one of the best fights I've ever had and helped make me better. Sarah's a worthy champion and I like Sarah's style. She's fierce and goes for the knockout and that's my style as well. She's a striker and I like to dish it out as well, so I think it'll stay on the feet."

The main event of Strikeforce's Oct. 9 card at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. is a welterweight championship fight between defending champion Nick Diaz and K.J. Noons in a rematch of a 2007 fight that saw Noons pick up a controversial win.

Strikeforce “Diaz vs. Noons 2” will air live on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast.

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