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When Impa Kasanganay won the first fight of the night on the Contender Series, he did what any fighter in his position would do.
Sitting with his coaches, he ran back the fight in his mind wondering if it was enough. Being his second time in this position and coming up empty the first time, it was extra stressful for Kasanganay.
“I remember walking back and talking to my coaches, like ‘man, did we get it?” Kasanganay recalled. “It was a mixture of thoughts… maybe we should have done this, I was analyzing the fight.”
All of that stress wasn’t warranted. Not just because Kasanganay’s performance earned him the contract that he would get later in the night, but also because Kasanganay had already been offered a fight in the UFC. However, because of a slip up by the broadcasting team, he wouldn’t know it right away.
“The UFC put my number out on accident. My agent, Lou, from First Round Management was calling me saying ‘Hey, you got a fight’. But I didn’t get to talk to him because my phone just kept going off and it glitched,” he said. “So I didn’t even know about the fight until Dana announced it.”
Of course, the relief would come later when Dana announced the contract and the fight in the same breath. That unique situation gave Kasanganay even more pause in his excitement.
“I remember waiting, waiting, waiting for the contract. He kind of started off the same way he did last year - there are some questions or things he wants to see, then he announced both,” he said. “That’s fun, let’s be excited, but we’ll celebrate this after we get this victory [on the 29th].”
And that excitement wasn’t just realizing his career aspirations, but also the name of his opponent, Maki Pitolo. Maki is a fighter he’s seen before and instantly was excited about fighting him.
“I love it. I remember years ago I saw him fight and I respect the way he fights,” Kasanganay shared. “He’s a solid fighter and he comes to fight.”
You can catch Kasanganay’s fight with Maki Pitolo on ESPN+ as part of UFC Fight Night: Smith vs Rakic, this Satuday.