"I am a freelance makeup artist, and the Octagon/Cage girl supervisor/assistant. I work the photo and video shoots the week of the fight as a groomer for the fighters, but, weigh-in day and fight day, I tend to the girls
I have been around in many different facets since around September 2001. Well, I knew someone and the opportunity fell into my lap so to speak. I have been very lucky for the opportunity.," stated UFC "Octagon Mom" Leslie Hedges as she talked about her role with the largest MMA organization in the world. Check it out!
PC: I have to tell you it was a pleasure to meet you. How are you doing Ms. Hedges?
LH: The pleasure was all mine. I had fun chit-chatting with everyone. I am doing alright, can't complain.
PC: Did you enjoy your trips to Oklahoma and Dallas?
LH: Hmmm. I love my job, let me start there, but those two fights were like hell week for me. I had some friends in Oklahoma, so that made it a double bonus, but the 3:45 AM bus ride the morning after the fight to Dallas, just to arrive in time to go to work and setup and work a full day? A lot of people did it too, so it was okay. It actually wasn't so hard on me, but I did crash that night.
PC: Okay, for those who are not familiar with you, what role do you play in the UFC?
LH: I am a freelance makeup artist, and the Octagon/Cage girl supervisor/assistant. I work the photo and video shoots the week of the fight as a groomer for the fighters, but, weigh-in day and fight day, I tend to the girls.
PC: Where did the name "Octagon Mom" come from?
LH: (Laughing) Well, the girls always said I mother them, or take such good care of them like a mom, so I don't remember exactly, but it came up and stuck. As of lately, some funny people have tried to cut the length down to Octo-Mom, but I quickly correct them (laughing).
PC: I know you're never supposed to ask a woman her age, but you appear to be young to be called a mom by girls in their early 20's (laughing).
LH: (Laughing) Yeah, but I think I was born a natural mother. I am a 31. I am not shy about saying it.
PC: How long have you been affiliated with the UFC and how did the opportunity come about for you?
LH: I have been around in many different facets since around September 2001. Well, I knew someone and the opportunity fell into my lap so to speak. I have been very lucky for the opportunity.
PC: So you deal with everyone, from the fighters to Dana and the Fertitta's, Bruce Buffer and of course the Octagon girls, right?
LH: Well, work-wise, not really. I see and work around them is about it, but I do not do grooming for the gentleman.
PC: What would you consider the toughest part of your job?
LH: I love traveling and it is a wonderful opportunity, but I do miss out on a lot of things going on at home. But, my friends are pretty understanding.
PC: I'm sure you have dealt with a lot of different personalities as far as the ring girls go. How do you get along with the trio that you recently had?
LH: Yeah, which makes them each very individual. I got along with them well; each were special to me in different ways.
PC: You also prepare fighters for photo shoots as well. How do you make some of those ugly guys photogenic? I'm just kidding. I don't want any of you guys coming after me.
LH: (Laughing) Yeah, trust me, it isn't easy (laughing).
PC: Do you really get into the fights as well or not so much?
LH: Yeah, I love it. I used to follow the sport before getting involved with UFC, when I lived on the Central Coast of California watching Chuck Liddell.
PC: One of your job functions also includes the approval of pictures taken with the Octagon girls from fans. During this process I'm sure you deal with some guys that may have had one too many. How do you handle situations like that?
LH: I calmly talk to them briefly prior to the picture, telling them, "please put down the drink while taking the picture and be a gentleman." I also, ask for them to just keep the hands where I can see them, because hands do tend to wander. If guys get too forceful or rude, then I tell them, "No thank you," and move the girls along.
PC: The girls seem to have a tremendous amount of respect for you and according to the story you told me in the Oklahoma elevator, you can handle yourself pretty well, but do you consider your job dangerous at times?
LH: I think things have only gotten hairy a few times. The elevator was crazy, but after growing up in school and working around nothing but almost all men, I have learned how to handle myself pretty good. There was one occurrence that stands out. An inebriated fan that wouldn't take no for an answer and followed the girls while I escorted them out of MGM, he continued to touch them and grab at them. I warned him a few times till I had to physically prevent him from touching them again and then handed him off to a police officer.
PC: The UFC recently released both Logan and Natasha from their contracts. What was that like for you?
LH: It was sad. We really didn't see that coming, but it was a blast to work with them and I think both of them will be just fine. They have bright futures.
PC: The UFC has a pretty demanding schedule. What do you do when you get some time off and how does the schedule affect your personal life?
LH: I relax and vegetate, cook and enjoy my friends. Well, I am single if that's what you're asking (laughing). It's not that I can't hold a relationship. It's that I am not home long enough to start one. Plus, he would have to be pretty strong and trusting, considering I am on the road a lot and always around men. I would never go there with a co-worker or a fighter, but, there is still jealousy in relationships.
PC: You are a very fun person. I'm glad we finally got to get this interview in. Is there anything you want to say in closing?
LH: Well, thank you very much Percy. Yeah, I am glad I finally did it, what 3 months later (laughing). I am so sorry I made you wait. I love my friends and family. They are my constant support system that keeps me going strong.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]