Kevin Lee just wanted to fight at UFC Vegas 35 on August 28 and he got his wish.
Lee was supposed to face Sean Brady but the ranked welterweight was forced out of the fight with a foot injury. After that, “The Motown Phenom” began calling out several welterweights but it was Daniel Rodriguez who accepted the fight.
Once the fight was official, Kevin Lee admits he didn’t know much about Rodriguez but he says it didn’t matter who he fought as he was also going to be the bigger name.
“We reached out to a lot of guys, I’d say maybe 10 or 12 in total, only three guys were seriously on the docket,” Lee said on Just Scrap Radio on BJPENN.com. “Even Daniel Rodriguez wasn’t one of them, he came out of left field, for me at least. We picked the right one, the right guy stepped up, he’s going to put on a good fight. I’m happy with it…
“I wanted to fight on this date and at the end of the day, I’m the one that’s a big name. I’m going to make Rodriguez’s name after this, he will get a little shine and that will be his bonus for stepping up,” Lee continued. “Even guys like Neil Magny, I feel like I would’ve made Magny’s star a little bigger. At the end of the day, it’s me that’s the star, and the rest of them are chasing it. I didn’t care who I fought.”
Entering the fight, Lee is coming off two knee surgeries and is moving up to welterweight. He says he believes he has a welterweight frame now and knows this is the weight class for him. Yet, The Motown Phenom knows there is pressure on him to beat Rodriguez, which he plans to do and prove he is one of the best in the world.
“There is some pressure but that is what is going to make me. I have been in huge events before, I’ve made big events before. It’s a different circumstance this fight, a lot of people are counting me out and overlooking me,” Lee explained. “But, to me, I’m going to make history with this one. No one has come back from double knee surgery in 12 months and competed at this level. I’m here to show I’m the best in the world.”
Although Rodriguez took the fight on short notice, Lee says he did get a few weeks to prepare for him. He has also been in touch with Firas Zahabi on his game plan and he’s confident he will get his hand raised and be able to beat up Rodriguez for however long the scrap lasts.
“Against a guy like Rodriguez, he’s going to try and make it a bloody, like drag ’em out fight… I’m going to beat him from bell-to-bell, I’m going to beat his ass, that’s all everybody needs to know,” Lee said. “I bring way more skills to the table, I think I have way more ways to win the fight. At the end of the day, the more well-rounded fighter will win. We both got heart, we both got grit, I think skills win.”
If Kevin Lee does get his hand raised, he says he has a callout already. He believes he is already a top-five welterweight and plans to prove that on Saturday. The hope for Lee as well is to fight again this year and work his way up the welterweight ranks.
“I feel I’m already top-five in this division, when you look at skill-for-skill that’s what it’s going to show. It will show a level difference… Come on, you know I have to save some stuff for TV. If you want to know, watch on ESPN. This is a big fight for me, but I would like at least one more this year, I’m hitting a good stride,” Lee concluded.
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