Newspaper article The Canadian Press

UFC Fighter Sarah Kaufman Helps Canadian Women's Rugby 7s Team on Road to Rio

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

UFC Fighter Sarah Kaufman Helps Canadian Women's Rugby 7s Team on Road to Rio

Article excerpt

UFC fighter helps rugby team on road to Rio

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VICTORIA - As it gears up for the Rio Olympics, the Canadian women's rugby sevens team has a former world champion in its corner.

Victoria mixed martial artist Sarah Kaufman, a former Strikeforce title-holder currently campaigning in the UFC, has close ties to the women rugby players. They have trained together for years, sharing a strength and conditioning coach, and Kaufman has become a valuable asset in her own right as a teacher.

Wrestling moves like double-leg takedowns translate into tackling skills. Fighting for the ball is akin to fighting for body position. Balance and maintaining a good base are important in both sports.

"It's been a fun relationship," Kaufman said while watching the Canadian team train this week at the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence where they both work out.

Said Canadian coach John Tait: "She's been a real fan of our program and our program's a big fan of her as well. The girls see what a professional she is in her approach."

Kaufman will be in the stands at Westhills Stadium in suburban Langford this weekend to cheer on the rugby team at the Canada Sevens.

The rugby players, who are centralized in Victoria, often head in the off-season to Zuma Martial Arts & Fitness where the 30-year-old Kaufman teaches and trains.

It helps them get back into contact as well as upping their conditioning, Kaufman says. During the season, it's harder to find time to train together but the five-foot-five 135-pounder has offered some boxing and kickboxing tips.

"They loved it," she said.

"It really is just a different sport for them," she added. "And again it's that contact and that power that they get to use, but just in a different sense."

The rugby players follow MMA, often getting together to watch when Kaufman fights. And Kaufman's support for the rugby team is easy to spot on her social media during tournaments.

"It's a great sport to follow," she said. …

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