Leslie (The Peacemaker) Smith was in a car returning from training when the phone rang.
“I was still sweaty,” she recalled. “(Manager/trainer) Cesar Gracie called and said ‘Can you be ready in 10 days?’ And I knew, after doing the math, that it was the Kaufman fight and I said ‘Hell yeah.'”
Welcome to the UFC, Leslie.
One phone call and the 31-year-old from Pittsburg, Calif., had become the third opponent lined up for Victoria’s Sarah Kaufman for Wednesday’s Ultimate Fighter Nations televised card.
The hastily made bout is a rematch. Kaufman (16-2 with one no contest) won a split decision over Smith on an Invicta FC card in April 2013 in a bout judged fight of the night.
Both fighters thought they deserved the decision that night in Kansas City.
“I was really bummed at the time but in the whole scheme of things this is probably the best way I can walk into the UFC,” said Smith. “I know my opponent, I know what I need to do, I know how I need to do it. Man, this is like a present.”
Kaufman, ranked No. 5 among UFC women’s bantamweight contenders, was originally slated to meet Shayna (The Queen of Spades) Baszler. When the veteran withdrew through injury, No. 8 Amanda (The Lioness) Nunes was brought in, only to get hurt herself.
“It’s just been a lot of changes, but I’m ready to fight,” said Kaufman. “And I’m in peak training condition so I don’t care.”