For Lee, to get the chance to fight a top-three opponent in his welterweight debut is exciting. He also likes the fact that dos Anjos is a former lightweight too.
“Yeah, I mean it definitely helps. Especially getting face-to-face with him at the press conference we are like the same size and frame,” Lee said to BJPENN.com. “He may have a few more pounds and has more experience at welterweight already. But, he is a former champ, it will be a good measuring stick for me all around.”
The choice to move up to welterweight was not easy for Kevin Lee. Although some fans suspect it’s because he lost his last fight at lightweight, it was more about just wanting to fight.
“I really just wanted to fight, it really didn’t matter to me,” he said. “It helped, for sure, especially going against someone like RDA, I know he is going to give me a good fight. If I would have stayed at 155, I would have had to give someone a shot beneath me in the rankings. RDA has already fought the who’s who of both divisions so it made sense all around the board.”
Now, Lee has an opportunity to get into the welterweight title conversation with a single win — which would not have been the case at lightweight.
“Right now, welterweight is really showing it is at the top of the game,” he said. “I think it is has passed lightweight for the most talent. He is ranked number three, it will put me up there. It will put me in the mix, for sure. I always like to shake s**t up, so I’ll throw my name in the hat.”
Not only will Lee be fighting a top-three welterweight, but he will also be headlining his fifth UFC event in a row. For the 26-year-old it is still a somewhat surreal feeling to be headlining shows, but it is starting to feel normal.
“It is getting more familiar. I’m starting to become a veteran of the game,” Lee said. “The people in the UFC have really seen me grow up from a 21-year-old to how I am now. This is just another step along the way. Headlining these cards and getting that attention. I feel like in the long run, it will show how beneficial it was for my career.”
Kevin Lee gives RDA his full respect
Kevin Lee knows he has a huge opportunity on Saturday, but he knows it won’t be an easy fight. He is well aware of how dangerous Rafael dos Anjos is.
“To be honest, I wouldn’t do this normally, but I have to give RDA my full attention and my full respect,” Lee said. “He is a former champ. I think no matter what, he is going to show up. I’m going to get the best version of him. He will use those losses as motivation to get in there and make a statement. I’m showing up for the best RDA there is. I’m giving him that respect for sure.”
At the end of the day, Lee is just looking forward to Saturday and being able to step foot in the Octagon again. Not only is he looking forward to the fight, but the 26-year-old believes it has all the makings to be a ‘Fight of the Year’ contender.
“I see it being a bloodbath, I really do. I haven’t gotten one of them in the UFC yet,” he concluded. “But, I think every fighter’s dream and nightmare is to get that Israel Adesanya-Kelvin Gastelum type fight where you really dig deep and see what you are made of. I feel like RDA is going to give that to me. I’m expecting a bloodbath for sure.”
Who do you think will win this fight between Kevin Lee and Rafael dos Anjos?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 5/15/2019.