UFC’s Leslie Smith Explains How Nate Diaz’s Kindness Fueled Her MMA Life

June 11, 2015 1:08 pm by Jonathan Kirschner
Leslie Smith


There are moments in a fighter’s career when everything clicks. It could be when they first step onto the mat, or when they make their professional debut. For UFC bantamweight Leslie Smith, her moment was especially memorable as it was veteran Nate Diaz that invited her onto the mat to train.

“I had just moved out to the Bay Area and I didn’t have a team figured out yet. So I was just like, ‘OK I’ll train wherever I can’. Then, I found [Cesar Gracie’s] gym, and I was going there but I didn’t have enough money for whatever, so I was like, [part of] the cleaning crew and being a sparring partner just so I could get out there. One day they had a fighter training practice and I was walking by and I was just like, ‘Man, I wish I was there!’. Nate walked by and he was like, ‘How’s it going?’ and I was like, ‘It’d be way better if I was on that mat.’”

Nate Diaz motioned for her to come on the mat and told Smith, “Hop on! Just, hop on.” Smith explained, “That was the most wonderful thing that could have happened because it was the whole reason I moved out there. I made all of these sacrifices in my life to become a fighter and that moment stepping onto the mat with all those guys at the fighter training practice was EPIC.”

“That was the most meaningful thing, like, ever. Nate Diaz will always have a super special place in my heart for that.”

Are you a fighter? When was the moment your career took off? Do you wish Nate Diaz would invite you onto the mat, or would you back off? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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