Kevin Lee wanted to make history with Rafael Dos Anjos.
The 26-year-old asked the UFC if his matchup with Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC Rochester could be the first fight in the promotion’s history at 165-pounds. Instead the “Motown Phenom” has to settle for a welterweight contest instead, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t make a statement about the weight class on May 18. Lee thought about the idea of showing up five pounds less for the welterweight contest to make a statement.
“If he’s down with it, I’d be down – and I’d cut an extra little five pounds for that, make a statement, make some noise.” Lee told reporters backstage at UFC 236 (via MMAJunkie) “It’s in our contract, we ain’t got to, but I like to push some buttons. It might be a little backroom deal that we got on there. RDA’ is kind of, he don’t really give you too much to go off of, and he don’t really give you too much back and forth, so, you know – I’ll ask him, see what he thinks about it.”
Lee (17-4) has been outspoken about a 165-pound division in the UFC. Having a tough cut to lightweight but being somewhat undersized at welterweight — standing 5’9 tall — having a new weight class would be ideal. If it doesn’t happen now, Lee believes we will see this new weight class in the future.
“I think it’s inevitable,” he said. “I think we all kind of see that. I think it creates more work for them, and they don’t really see that much more benefit out of it. But, at the end of the day, when you talk about fighter safety and you talk about not having to dehydrate your brain and getting to fight a similar opponent, that’s what we’re looking for, is an even playing field. That’s why I’m actually glad that ‘RDA’ is going up – and you see (Anthony) Pettis go up, you see Jorge (Masvidal), you see a lot of other guys go up – just so we can fight on an even playing field. If I don’t have to dehydrate myself and dehydrate my brain 16 more pounds, please don’t make me. I think, for fighters’ safety, it has to be done. It’s just making more work for them, but I can’t tell somebody else how to do their job, so I’m going to do mine. “Even squaring off with ‘RDA’ and seeing him face-to-face, we’re the same size, man,” Lee said. “I like that about it. And, at the end of the day, I just like a good fight. He’s going to give it to me.”
UFC Rochester takes place at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y on May 18. It will air on ESPN+. Who do you think will come out on top when Kevin Lee and Rafael dos Anjos fight?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 4/16/2019.