Kaufman eyes return to the top

Ex-champ Sarah Kaufman now a contender for Strikeforce MMA welterweight belt

In her last fight

In her last fight

Ex-champ Sarah Kaufman now a contender for belt

With a win tonight, Sarah Kaufman gets a chance to win back what was once hers: the Strikeforce welterweight title.

Victoria’s gift to mixed martial arts makes her Sin City fight debut tonight at Palms hotel and casino.

Kaufman has won some close fights in her career but, for the most part the powerful striker has faced little adversity. That could change depending on the outcome of tonight’s match against Liz Carmouche at Strikeforce Challengers in Vegas.

Both Kaufman and Carmouche are coming off losses to current welterweight (135-pounds) champion Marloes Coenen of the Netherlands.

A win against Carmouche this week and Kaufman likely gets another shot at the title she lost to Coenen in October 2010. A loss for Kaufman could mean difficulty getting another bout on the Strikeforce circuit.

Kaufman originally won the title by beating Takayo Hashi in February of 2010.

Carmouche is an ex-U.S. marine who went undefeated, ripping off five straight wins in the past 15 months, until she stepped in as a replacement fighter in a title match against Coenen on just 11 days notice in March.

“Carmouche is a lot newer to the scene so it’s interesting and great to see someone make waves in such a short period of time,” Kaufman said prior to leading a class at ZUMA martial arts in Vic West last week. “Carmouche will be fast-paced but I should be able to use my striking and hopefully win.”

Kaufman’s last fight was at Bear Mountain Arena on April 2 when she defeated Japan’s Megumi Yabushita by knockout at the Armageddon Fighting Championship. Kaufman’s last Strikeforce win was exactly one year ago on July 23, 2010. It was her only title defence, a knockout slam against Roxanne Modafferi that made ESPN’s top plays of the week.