Sarah Kaufman hopes a win over Leslie Smith will set up a path to a UFC title shot

Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

Heading into the TUF: Nations finale card, Sarah Kaufman hopeful that a win over Leslie Smith will lead to a fight against No. 1 ranked UFC women's bantamweight Cat Zingano

If you called Sarah Kaufman since April 1 and she didn't pick up the phone, please forgive her. After all, between April 1 and April 8 the No. 5 ranked woman in the UFC's bantamweight division seemed to receive a lot of bad news.

Kaufman was scheduled to face Shayna Baszler on Wednesday's The Ultimate Fighter Nations finale card, but that fight was scratched on April 1 when it was announced that Baszler had suffered an injury. On April 3, Amanda Nunes signed on to face Baszler, but by April 8, she was also off the card with an injury. With the April 16 fight card closing in, Leslie Smith stepped up and inked a deal to fight Kaufman.

Wednesday's fight will be the second time these two have met in the cage. Their first contest, an April 15, 2013 bout under the Invicta FC banner, ended with Kaufman taking a split decision victory.

Getting an opponent on such short notice is often a worrisome prospect for a fighter, but Kaufman told MMAJunkie, that will not be the case when she faces Smith, "Having fought Leslie before alleviates some of the worry about not knowing what she'll bring to the table. If it was a total unknown there would be more anxiety there, but because we've scouted her before it's been good for me."

Kaufman is hopeful that a second win over Smith will put her in position to fight on the June 14 UFC event in Vancouver. "I want to have a strong win, get a knockout, put some money in my pocket, turn around into another fight camp and then fight in front of literally my home crowd in Vancouver," said Kaufman.

As for whom she would like to face in that hometown fight, Kaufman said she wouldn't be opposed to facing the winner of Saturday's fight between Liz Carmouche and Miesha Tate. However, if the timing were right, Kaufman said she would like the chance to knock Cat Zingano from her perch as the No. 1 ranked woman in the UFC, "I think she's great, I don't think she should be the No. 1 contender, especially coming off such a long layoff, so I think she should have a fight prior to getting a title shot and I would love to be the one who kind of steps over and gets that win and that title shot."

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