won two fights in two hours Friday night to come out on top of Strikeforce's four-woman, one-night MMA tournament, taking a big step forward toward earning a shot at the 135-pound title.
Although one-night tournaments are risky propositions, this tournament has to be considered a major success for Strikeforce: The fights were solid, and the result was a likable, articulate, attractive woman getting a high-profile tournament championship.
"Sarah Kaufman, you're amazing," Tate said to the current 135-pound champ. "I can't wait to fight you again."
Tate beat Maiju Kujala
in a rather uneventful unanimous decision in the first fight of the tournament, winning a fight that didn't take much out of her and left her with plenty of energy for the final, where she would take on Hitomi Akano
. (Akano put Carina Damm
in a triangle choke from the bottom and then rolled over and getting the tap from the top to win the other semifinal by second-round submission.)
Early in the final, Akano briefly had Tate in trouble with a foot lock, but as the fight went on, Tate showed that she was clearly the superior fighter, with better striking, better wrestling, and enough submission defense to stay out of trouble against Akano.
Strikeforce has said that Kaufman will next defend her title against Marloes Coenen, and that fight hasn't yet been scheduled. So it may be a while before Tate gets the title shot. But it's a shot she has earned. Tate was great Friday night.