The UFC got an unorthodox assist in building a pair of upcoming fights.
UFC president Dana White looked to Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum to help organize matchups for two 2021 fight cards. In the process, Plum became the first woman and first-non UFC employee to work on a matchmaking team, Sports Ilustrated’s Justin Barrasso reports.
How did Kelsey Plum get involved?
The side gig for the No. 1 pick in the 2017 WNBA draft was an unexpected side effect of an Achilles injury that sidelined Plum for the Aces run to the WNBA Finals in October. Plum was rehabbing at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas when she instigated a fight between Kevin Lee and Michael Johnson, getting into the ears of both fighters.
She posted about it on Instagram, catching White’s attention. White then reached out to see if she would be interested in taking on an official matchmaking capacity. She was.
Plum and the Aces posted video of the experience on social media, complete with her official introduction to the fight game by White.
Plum: ‘I’m hyped’
Add @UFC Matchmaker to @kelseyplum10’s resume! 👏
Talk about speaking things into existence. A huge shoutout to @danawhite for making this happen! Check out how KP became a matchmaker for #UFC258 and #UFCFightNightpic.twitter.com/DgBfi9YwP8
— Las Vegas Aces (@LVAces) November 17, 2020
She spoke with SI about the experience.
“Dana reached out to me and asked what I was doing, and all I could tell him was that I was just having a little fun and talking some s---,” Plum said about her training room instigation. “He also asked if I wanted to be a matchmaker. We kept talking, and somehow, this happened.”
Plum sat on the matchmaking team that set up the Jan. 16 UFC “Fight Night” headliner between top-ranked featherweight contender Max Holloway and Calvin Kattar. She also helped put together a Feb. 13 flyweight fight between Maycee Barber and Alexa Grasso on another “Fight Night.”
Plum, 26, presumably has a lot of years left on her WNBA career. But it sounds like she’s already got her post-playing career planned out.
“Life after basketball for me is gonna be freaking matchmaking in the UFC,” Plum said. “I’m hyped.”
More from Yahoo Sports: