Kevin Lee (18-6) is making his return to the octagon this weekend.

The former interim lightweight title challenger returns to welterweight at UFC Vegas 35, where he faces up and coming 170-pounder Daniel Rodriguez. Lee will be fighting for the first time in over a year.

“The Motown Phenom” is 1-1 in his last two fights; both of which took place at 155 pounds. 

Lee starched Gregor Gillespie with a thunderous head kick KO at UFC 244 in Nov. 2019.

However, Lee experienced misfortune when he suffered a defeat at the hands of current UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira by way of submission in March 2020.

Lee has ventured into the welterweight division in the past, losing to top welterweight contender (at the time) Rafael Dos Anjos by submission in May 2019.

Speaking with Submission Radio, Lee explained his reasoning for wanting to go back up to 170.

“Before, welterweight was kind of in this weird standstill when Tyron Woodley was the champ, and everybody kind of played politics in order to get up there,” Lee said to Submission Radio. “But now that you’ve got a serious competitor [in Kamaru Usman]; that gave me a little bit of motivation. And it was the weightlifting. Coming off these surgeries, I did a lot of weight training on my legs. And with that I trained upper body too, which I’ve never done in my career. I haven’t done since I really was in college, 18-19 years old. 

“So, the weightlifting put on the size as muscle, and when I compared it with other people in the UFC, I noticed my numbers were the exact same as a lot of these welterweights. And it was just time for me to stop fighting and go ahead and make that move.”

Why is Kevin Lee fighting Daniel Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 35?

Lee then touched on his opponent, Daniel Rodriguez, and spoke of the amount of amateur fights Rodriguez has along with the plethora of fights during his time in prison.

“He’s tougher than any of the other guys that I was calling out. It just seems to be my luck of the draw to just get the tough ones,” Lee said. “So, a guy who had 200-something street fights, he says, and then a lot of Muay Thai experience on top of getting into MMA. I don’t overlook those things. 

“When he talks about fighting in prison and all this, I don’t overlook that. That’s just as relevant to me as somebody who’s had 200 amateur boxing fights. I think it’s even more relevant, because it’s a street fight, it’s anything goes. It’s more like MMA than boxing is.”

Lee also gave his take on how he saw the fight going.

“I see myself beating Rodriguez bell to bell, bell to bell every time, in every situation that we’re in. I beat him,” Lee said. “It’s going to be one hell of a fight. He’s gonna stand in there, he’s gonna get bloody, he’s gonna take some shots. But after the first exchange, he’s going to realize that there’s different levels to this game, and he took a major step up. Hats off to him, but I appreciate it and I’m taking home that check.”

Regardless of outcome, this welterweight contest between Lee and Rodriguez should be a good one.

VIDEO: Would-be Khabib attacker lurches at hobbled former champion

Kevin Lee opens up about how 2020 shaped him

(Video courtesy of UFC)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *