Kevin Lee - Motown Phenom
He is young, he is outspoken, he is unapologetic...whether you like him or not, Kevin Lee has certainly started to make some noise in recent times....and I for one am interested to see where it leads.
At just 24 years old Kevin Lee, a product of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has already had 17 professional fights in the cage, including 10 in the UFC. He is 8-2 in the Octagon and is on a 4-fight winning streak.
Throughout 2017 and certainly following the “UFC Summer Kickoff” press conference in Dallas, on May 12, fight fans have certainly taken more notice of the Motown Phenom.
The most obvious reason stems from a fiery clash on the conference dais with Saturday night's opponent and co-headliner of UFC Fight Night 112 at Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City, Michael 'Maverick' Chiesa (14-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC).
Chiesa, the current #9 ranked lightweight who is on his own 3-fight winning streak, went after Lee after taking exception to a comment about his mom.
Lee said, “He’s gonna headline because of me. After that, he’s going back to the prelims. But I just hope he shows up because I know his momma’s got tickets.”
In response, an infuriated Cheisa shouted, “Don’t you ever talk about my ******* mom. I’m gonna smack the **** out of your right now, don’t you ever talk about my mom.”
What at first seemed a little comical very quickly turned 'Jerry Springer' as Chiesa jumped from his chair and ran at Lee who countered with a right hand that clipped Chiesa in the face before security could intervene and separate the two before things got any more physical.
When asked backstage if the comment was premeditated Lee added, “I don’t really think about what I’m gonna say beforehand, I just flow with what I’m saying, ya know. I don’t know nothing about the man. I don’t really care to know his personal life, I don’t watch any of his interviews, I don’t know anything about him."
Since the scuffle, Chiesa has called Lee’s punch a 'cheap shot' but the Motown Phenom has retaliated to this by saying his opponent was just too slow delivering his own punch and that’s why he got caught.
“It didn’t make sense, how can you cheap shot someone that is coming at you? To me, a cheap shot is when your back is turned, and I come up behind them or something. How can that be a cheap shot? He reached out to me, he reached out with his left hand and I countered with a right before he could. I was going to hit him with another punch but I didn’t want to hit my man I in the back of his bald head. They would’ve crucified me for that one. Cheap shot, whatever you want to call it, It was a good shot. It doesn’t matter."
Despite this altercation Lee has stated he has a lot of respect for the tenacity and toughness of Chiesa, however, feels the fight will only last as long as he wants it to and he will walk out of Oklahoma City with a victory over a top-10 ranked opponent.
“After two minutes, Mike’s going to go into a defensive shell. He’s going to realize how much better I am, he’s going to panic a little bit and if I don’t catch him within the panic, he’s going to stay in a defensive shell because he don’t want to get beat up in front of his friends.
“He’s gonna stick in there for as long as I let him stick in there. He’s going to be outgunned, outmatched, it’s gonna be like going in there against an AK-47 with a handgun. Maybe, once in a lifetime, you may be able to pull that trigger and catch the dude, but I don’t know, he’s going against a fully automatic. I don’t think he stands much chance. I think he knows that too and he’s just waiting for the inevitable.”
Lee's confidence doesn't come without any prior performance to back it up. His eight UFC victories since 2012 at lightweight have him tied with Tony Ferguson, Beneil Dariush and Francisco Trinaldo for most in the division, while his four straight wins have him tied for the fourth-longest active streak in the division behind Ferguson (9), Khabib Nurmagomedov (7) and Al Iaquinta (5).
Previous comments from Lee back in March also raised some serious eyebrows throughout the mixed martial arts world at the time when he stated that he wasn’t going to be chasing championships, he was chasing big fights.
If successful against Chiesa, Lee has already targeted one of these 'big fights' for his next opponent, calling out undefeated lightweight, Khabib Nurmagomedov, for a stoush in December.
“That’s the fight to make. I shouldn’t even have to march. They should’ve made that fight for this one, but the man don’t want to fight. He’s trying to hold on to that little imaginary ‘0’ that he has. It don’t make sense, but, the man don’t want to fight.”
Numerous injuries and illnesses have grounded “The Eagle” from competing regularly over the past few years. The most recent being a result of a bad weight cut which saw him pulled late from his scheduled interim title bout against Tony Ferguson earlier this year.
“He don’t fight at all, he hasn’t fought for over a year. By the time we get it done in December, and it’s going to be almost two years since the man has fought and that was a two-year layoff for whatever he’s had."
“So, the man has shown that he don’t want to fight. I give him nine months notice to show up in December. That’s on top of me taking a fight this Sunday and still show up in December. So, if he don’t show up then I’ll fight Tony Ferguson.”
Them fighting words.
To find out more about his thoughts on this weekend's clash with fellow contender, Michael 'Maverick' Chiesa, the state of the UFC's lightweight division and his aspirations for his future in the sport subscribe to the UFC Channel on PADLOKT.com today to talk with Kevin Lee live via video (or watch live via live stream) on June 23 @ 10AM AEST where the 'Motown Phenom' will answer all your questions.
He is brash, he is bold and he likes to run his mouth....this one is going to be fun and it's an opportunity you don’t want to miss.
Jimmy. R. Nugent