Last weekend, in the main event of UFC 216, Kevin Lee came up short in a bid to capture the UFC interim lightweight title in a fight with Tony Ferguson. For Lee, however, the real fight began in the days before he stepped into the cage, when he had to shed a monstrous 21 pounds to reach the lightweight division’s 155-pound limit.
Initially, Lee actually failed to make 155, tipping the scales about a pound over. Luckily, he was given an extra hour by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and ultimately managed to make championship weight.
On the latest episode of Chael Sonnen’s You’re Welcome podcast, Kevin Lee shared the details of this hellish cut to 155:
“The actual weight cut itself didn’t start off bad,” he said (h/t MMAFighting.com). “It started off the same as most of my other ones. I normally come into fight week about 176 [pounds] and I’ve got about 20 pounds to cut, this time 21, so I came in at 176. I keep details of all my weight cuts so I know exactly where to dial in and where to turn it up. So I was following one of my weight cuts that went really well when I went in Ireland and everything was fine and we dialed it back. I normally don’t start the actual water cut until about 10 PM, but we dialed it back to about 5 PM to give myself the extra time for the extra pound and the weight started coming off quick. I normally go to sleep the night before at about 165, this time I went to sleep about 161 so when we woke up at 5 AM, we kind of were in too much of a lackadaisical – I was kind of in a good mood, like, ‘Oh, this is gonna be smooth. I’ve only got six pounds to cut. I normally cut nine pounds.’ I thought it was gonna be smooth and I took it a little too light.
“The first three hours I only got a pound off,” Kevin Lee continued. “Put yourself in my shoes, it’s 8:00, the weigh-ins start at 9:00, and I’ve still got five pounds to cut; so they’re literally throwing boiling water into the hot tub with me because I’ve got to get it off now, get it off quick. . .
“So right around 10:30 is when the doctor came up and we were still a pound and a half over and he was saying I had to weigh in by 11:00 and then they’d give me the extra hour. I was hoping that somehow their scale was off and they would just give me the pound. I was hoping and I was praying but it was what it was.”
“That last hour that I had to cut that extra pound, I don’t even know how I got it off. I don’t know where I was. Your mind just doesn’t want to work when you’re in those kind of states. . .”
“Like I said, I don’t even remember much. I don’t really know. I was kind of out of it and I just left it up to my coaches and they got the job done.”
“Once I actually made the weight, as soon as I sat down I was more exhausted than I – I don’t think I’ve ever really felt like that in my life. I was carrying the stress of the whole event too so it was a lot.”
Do you think athletes like Kevin Lee should be allowed to endure these extreme weight cuts?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 10/12/2017.