When the two face-off on February 26, they will bring a level of success and experience into the cage that is rare among female MMA competitors. Kaufman has a perfect 10-0 record, while Hashi is 12-1 in her career, with her single loss coming back in 2005.
With the first-ever Strikeforce 135-lbs. women's title on the line, fans can look forward to an exciting contest, and Hashi is determined to live up to expectations.
"I am honored that I was given an opportunity to fight for the world title," Hashi told MMAWeekly. "As a representative of Japan, for sure, I want to bring that 135-pound belt back to Japan. I've had a dream of fighting in the world title fight for a long, long time, and finally, I can be in that stage. So what I have to do now is to use my own strength to get my dream, that belt, around my waist. I will carry not only just the Rising Sun on my shoulder, but also everything about my life, that is how I am going to fight. Also I am going to fight with a pride where every women's MMA fighters in the world can be proud of our sport."
Hashi is an experienced grappler, placing third in her division at the ADCC world championships in 2007, while Kaufman is a dangerous striker. Eight of her ten career wins have come by way of TKO. It seems like this bout should be a classic grappler vs. striker match-up, but Hashi says she plans to impose her will wherever the fight takes place.
"I am fully aware that she is very strong and dangerous," Hashi stated. "She is aggressive and she doesn't back paddle, and strikes hard. She has got a stamina too, so I think she is a very tough fighter. As you can see from her professional record, she is a tough fighter to beat, but that also became my motivation because I am always looking forward to face a strong fighter. I imagine, overall, it's going to be a striking battle. If she has got a pride in her striking ability then I would like to crush that pride by striking against her. If this fight hits the ground, then I will show my pride in the ground game. In all aspect of this fight, I will not back off. So, for sure, this is going to be an extremely tough fight. Just as like my other fights, my approach is to break my opponent's heart."
Hashi may be a relative unknown among North American MMA fans now, but she hopes to change that with a strong performance against Kaufman.
"First of all, I want the American fans to remember 'Japan's Takayo Hashi'," said Hashi. "That is why I definitely want that belt. I will be aggressive in both standing, and on the ground, and would like to provide a very exciting fight. I want to show that Japan's Hashi is going head to head against world's top fighter in the cage. And if the fans says, 'I want to see Hashi's fight again!' after the fight, then I would be very happy."