UFC veteran, ex-Strikeforce champ Sarah Kaufman announces retirement: ‘I have loved every second in the cage’

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It was a long and winding road for Sarah Kaufman, with many stops along the way, but she’s finally reached the end of her journey.

Kaufman, a pioneer of Canadian women’s mixed martial arts, called it a career Thursday when she officially announced her retirement on social media. She was the inaugural Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion, a former UFC fighter, a PFL playoff qualifier, and an Invicta FC champ.

At 36, Kaufman (22-5) walks away from the sport having won five of her most recent six fights. Her resume includes wins over Alexis Davis, Miesha Tate, Roxanne Modafferi, Liz Carmouche, Leslie Smith, Jessica-Rose Clark, and Pannie Kianzad, among others.

In 27 professional fights, she only lost to Ronda Rousey, Valentina Shevchenko, Davis, Larissa Pacheco, and Marloes Coenen.

Check out Davis’ full statement:

“While I’ve known since the beginning of my career that it couldn’t continue forever, it’s a bit surreal to finally announce that I am officially retiring from the professional sport of MMA. While I have made my last walk as a competitor, I will always be involved in some capacity as a coach and a recreational athlete. I have loved every second in the cage and the amazing people I have met around the world will forever be part of my family.

“Starting out at 20 years old, I wasn’t sure exactly who I was as a person; but through my 17 year journey, all the people and experiences have shaped me into the person I am today. I am proud of my accomplishments and how I always carried myself with poise, professionalism and never compromised my integrity to get ahead.

“I have been fortunate to have worked with the most amazing coaches and teammates: I couldn’t have done it without you. To all of the competitors I shared the cage with, the teammates I shared hours training with, the fans and supporters who were behind me, the sponsors who enabled me to do what I. love, the media who gave me a platform to get my story out there, the promotions who had me step in their cages:

“Thank you.

“To my head coach, Adam Zugec, Zuma teammates, and longtime strength coach Ty Goodale: thank you for being in my corner always. To the Jackson-Wink crew, the Roufusport crew, the Syndicate Crew, you will always be family. There are too many people to thank individually. You know who you are. You are appreciated.

“I have nothing else to say except I am sad the journey has ended but am also at peace knowing I gave everything I could to the sport of MMA. I hope I left it better than when I started.

“I am excited to be moving on on my terms and stepping into a new career where I can continue to help others in the community.”

Kaufman’s pro MMA journey began in 2006. Eight fights into her career, she was still unbeaten and attracted the eyes of the Scott Coker regime, which headed Strikeforce at the time. She was signed to Strikeforce Challengers, where she continued to rack up wins and went 4-0, defeating Takayo Hashi to become the first Strikeforce women’s champ at 135 pounds.

She defended it once against Roxanne Modafferi and then, at 12-0, she lost the belt to Marloes Coenen by third-round armbar submission. Back to the drawing board, she rebuilt. Three consecutive wins earned her a second crack at Strikeforce gold, this time vs. Ronda Rousey, who submitted Kaufman in 54 seconds by armbar.

A win over Leslie Smith in Invicta earned Kaufman a UFC contract. She made her UFC debut in 2013 and lost, but the result was overturned to a no contest after her opponent, Jessica Eye, failed a drug test.

In her next bout, Kaufman rematched Smith and won a unanimous decision. Back-to-back losses to Alexis Davis and Valentina Shevchenko landed her on the UFC chopping block.

One win later, she signed with Invicta and became the bantamweight champion with a unanimous decision win over Pannie Kianzad. In 2019, she joined the PFL and went 1-0 in the regular season before she was eliminated from the playoffs by Larissa Pacheco.

Her final MMA competition came in November 2019 when she defeated Bellator alum Jessy Miele for regional promotion BTC.

Kaufman was booked to compete at PAWFC 1 in January, but her bout was canceled due to travel issues with scheduled opponent Claudia Leite.