A photo from the second fight between Canadian bantamweights Alexis Davis and Sarah Kaufman hangs on the wall at Kaufman’s Victoria gym.
It shows Kaufman burying her right fist in Davis’ face.
Kaufman (17-2 with one no contest) hopes for more of the same Saturday when the 135-pounders meet for a third time on the UFC 186 undercard in Montreal. Davis (16-6) looks for a win after two losses — 2007 and 2012 — to Kaufman.
Davis, 30, is happy to get a crack at a top contender after losing to champion (Rowdy) Ronda Rousey in 16 seconds at UFC 175 last July.
“I feel like they’re giving me an opportunity,” Davis said of the UFC. “They didn’t kind of throw me on the backburner to start again. I’m fighting one of the toughest female fighters in the UFC right now.”
Davis, a native of Port Colborne, Ont., now based in San Jose, is ranked third among 135-pound contenders. Kaufman is No. 5.
The 29-year-old Kaufman, who wonders about those rankings considering their history, is happy to get back to action after a year’s inactivity but admits Davis was not her first choice.
“I can’t say I was jumping for joy,” she said.
A few weeks after beating Leslie Smith last April, Kaufman’s car was hit by a vehicle running a red light. Back and neck injuries kept her out of full training for almost six months.
“It’s been a little bit of a waiting game and I’m used to being patient but I don’t really want to be patient,” said Kaufman. “I want to make some noise and stamp my feet and get the fights going that I’d like, that the fans want to see.”
Restored to health, Kaufman had lobbied to meet rising star Bethe Correia, or No. 2 Miesha Tate. But No. 7 Correia fights Rousey on Aug. 1 in Brazil while Tate meets No. 6 Jessica (Evil) Eye on July 25 in Chicago.
Davis wanted to get back in the cage sooner after the Rousey beatdown but said she had to wait for a fight to come. And while she doesn’t dwell on the loss, it is something that motivates her.
She acknowledges not listening to her coaches, thinking about giving the fans what they want and poor footwork all caught up with her. As did Rousey.
“That was tough to watch,” Kaufman, who was submitted by Rousey in 54 seconds in a 2012 Strikeforce bout, said of Davis’ loss to the champ.
While Kaufman and Davis have history in the cage, Davis says it doesn’t mean much.
“We’re two different fighters (today),” she said.
Davis “can barely” remember their first fight on an Ultimate Cage Wars card in Winnipeg in 2007. It was her first pro bout and Kaufman’s fourth.
“I think I finished it with a 30-punch combination of some sort. Eventually she collapsed and I think I finished her on the ground.”
Their second fight — in Strikeforce — saw a bloodied Davis and Kaufman stand and bang for two rounds before Davis, a black belt in both Japanese and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, took Kaufman down in the third.
Davis admits her game plan went out the window. But she also notes that loss to Kaufman was her last fight before moving her camp to California. She is 5-1 since.
Kaufman, a brown belt in BJJ. expects a motivated Davis to be in her face once again.
“I believe Alexis always shows up at her best when she fights me … It’s not always the prettiest fight but it sure is exciting to watch.”
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press