Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum is still recovering from surgery on her left Achilles heel, but in her time away from the basketball court, the 26-year-old has taken on a new role.
Last week, Plum served as matchmaker for the UFC, setting up two upcoming fights. First, she helped to finalize the upcoming Maycee Barber-Alexa Grasso flyweight fight, scheduled for February 13. Plum also worked with the matchmaking team to set up a headliner on January 16, a featherweight bout pitting Max Holloway against Calvin Kattar.
“Holloway-Kattar, the energy of that fight is very appealing to me,” says Plum. “Max is so proven, and he’s in a spot that Calvin wants. I think that’s a fight people will want to see.”
The Achilles injury forced Plum to watch the Aces’ run to last month’s WNBA Finals as a spectator, which was especially harrowing when the Seattle Storm swept the series. Plum’s goal is to return to the court by late January, and her focus has been on regaining the explosive qualities that helped her break the NCAA Division I women’s basketball all-time scoring record.
While rehabbing the injury at the UFC Performance Institute in Vegas, Plum playfully instigated a fight between Kevin Lee and Michael Johnson, who were both unaware that she was testing out her matchmaking skills. Plum enthusiastically shared the details on her Instagram Story, which caught the attention of UFC President Dana White.
“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 says. “He also asked if I wanted to be a matchmaker. We kept talking, and somehow, this happened.”
Plum’s matchmaking helps create an opportunity Kattar has been seeking for the past dozen years, back to when he was knocking out opponents in Salem, New Hampshire for the Combat Zone promotion. Holloway is a former two-time featherweight champion, and a win over such an established fighter would instantly elevate Kattar into an entirely new echelon in the UFC.
“You only get to the top by taking out the best guys in the division, and Max is one of the best ever to do it in the division,” says Kattar. “So there is a lot of work in front of us, but me and my team are working hard to turn dreams into reality. Every day, we keep that Bill Belichick Patriots mindset, and we’re onto Max Holloway.”
Kattar extended his gratitude to Plum and the rest of the matchmaking committee for the high-profile fight.
“For me, now is the time to focus and put in the work,” says Kattar. “But it’s pretty wild to have people that I look up to now looking in my direction.”
Plum became the first female and first non-UFC employee to actively partake in the matchmaking process, working on a committee with the UFC’s Hunter Campbell, Sean Shelby, and Mick Maynard.
“I learned the process of how it works, and it was so fascinating to learn the different nuances that are used as indicators to put together a fight,” says Plum. “I was able to share some of my ideas, and we made the two fights.
“This is all still sinking in for me. It was a dope opportunity for me, and I can’t wait to watch the fights.”