25-Year-Old UFC Lightweight 16-3-0
October 7, 2017 Kevin Lee News
RotoWire Fantasy Analysis
Lee lost to Tony Ferguson in Saturday's UFC Interim Lightweight Championship fight, falling via submission (triangle choke) at 4:02 of Round 3 at UFC 216 in Las Vegas.
It was a trying week for the "Motown Phenom." From the events of the last few days in his adopted home of Las Vegas to his issues making weight on Friday, it was just too much for Lee to overcome. He revealed in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan that he was also suffering from a staph infection. Lee looked good early and was likely on his way to a 29-28 lead when disaster struck late in Round 3. Lee had slowed down considerably prior to the finish and it was abundantly clear that his energy was quickly evaporating. It's not a surprise given all the issues he had yesterday. Much like Ray Borg in the co-main event, Lee's (who turned 25 years old last month) best days are ahead of him.
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Fantasy AnalysisLee weighed in at the back end of Friday's two-hour window, but checked in at 156 pounds -- one pound over the limit for a championship fight. After receiving medical clearance to attempt to cut the weight, Lee was then given a one-hour window to lose the final pound. He returned to the weigh-in area minutes before the deadline elapsed, and ultimately made the weight. As a result, Lee will now take on Ferguson in the main event of Saturday's UFC 216 with the interim belt on the line. The saga seems to have affected Lee's betting odds, as he's currently as much as a (+225) underdog in some places after opening at (+145). Ferguson, on the other hand, weighed in on his first attempt Friday morning, and has had well over an extra hour to begin the rehydration process.
Fantasy AnalysisLee told Helwani on Thursday morning that he had 19 pounds to cut in less than 24 hours, so the weight cutting troubles Friday didn't exactly come from out of the blue. He was undoubtedly surprised to miss his mark, but barring a surprising turn of events, Lee will be given another chance to hit the lightweight limit. If he cannot make the weight, a multitude of possibilities are on the table, including moving forward with the scheduled bout as a non-title fight. Stay tuned for further updates on the situation.
Fantasy AnalysisThis isn't necessarily all that uncommon for a lightweight fighter, but cutting nearly 11 percent of one's body weight in less than 24 hours is a tall task to ask of anyone. Lee remains confident he can get to the 155-pound limit for a lightweight title fight, but it's still a situation worth monitoring for any fantasy owners with Lee or his opponent, Tony Ferguson, in their lineups. As of Thursday afternoon, Lee remains approximately a (+180) underdog for the matchup.
Fantasy AnalysisLee doesn't have nearly as many big-name opponents on his resume as Ferguson, but he'll parlay a five-fight winning streak into a title shot nonetheless. The Detroit native caught the attention of fight fans in his last bout, earning a dominant technical submission victory over Michael Chiesa. The No. 7-ranked Lee jumped many contenders to get this opportunity, passing the likes of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Nate Diaz, Eddie Alvarez and Edson Barboza. Though Lee will enter this fight as a major underdog, an upset victory would presumably earn him the fight of his life against current UFC Lightweight Champion Conor McGregor following his return to the UFC from a brief boxing stint. For Lee to get that opportunity, his ideal strategy would be to utilize his wrestling to maintain control, avoiding extended striking exchanges with an elite fighter like Ferguson.
Fantasy AnalysisThe fight quickly went to the ground as Chiesa took Lee down. Lee was able to scramble to take top position. "The Motown Phenom" did a good job of fighting off submission attempts and eventually took "Maverick's" back. After securing a body triangle, Lee locked in a rear-naked choke. Chiesa was doing his best to defend the submission, even though it was under the chin, and was in the process of fighting the choke when Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight. Chiesa did not tap. It was a bizarre finish and not the way the UFC wants to end the night with a controversial end to the main event. Nonetheless, Lee was awarded a Performance of the Night bonus for his efforts.
Fantasy AnalysisLee also appeared on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani on Monday, but appeared to be in good spirits, and the issue of weight was not brought up. Provided the report is not some sort of ruse perpetrated by Lee and his team, it's going to be a rough week ahead for the 155-pounder. That type of weight cut is certainly not unheard of in the sport, but Lee will be cutting right up until Friday morning's deadline. To put the cut in perspective, if this fight were located in California with new weight cutting rules in effect, Lee would likely be forced to move up to welterweight for any additional fights in the state.
Fantasy AnalysisThere's a lot to like about the 24-year-old Motown Phenom. His evening didn't get off to a great start, but as soon as Trinaldo made a positional mistake on the mat, Lee pounced. An explosive athlete with a strong wrestling base, Lee's striking and ground skills are ever improving. Although born in the Detroit area, he has been training with the Extreme Couture camp in Las Vegas for quite a while now. Lee dropped his UFC debut to Al Iaquinta in February 2014, but he's gone 8-1 since then and the one setback was a fluke first-round KO loss at the hands of an inferior fighter in Leonardo Santos. Expect Lee to find himself in the top-15 when the UFC updates their rankings on Monday.
Fantasy AnalysisIn terms of striking, these two were very evenly matched. However, Lee's wrestling ended of being the difference. He landed several takedowns in the first and took the back and nearly finished via rear-naked choke. In the second round, Lee once again went to his wrestling. Mustafaev was able to escape the first back mount, but not the second. Late in the round, Lee scored a takedown, cut through the guard, took the back and finished with a rear-naked choke. Mustafaev refused to tap and ended up going unconscious. Lee is now 6-2.
Fantasy AnalysisIt was a flawless performance from Lee. He absorbed virtually no damage from Matthews and he dominated the fight in all areas. A tremendous athlete who is very strong, Lee has exceeded all expectations since joining the UFC in February 2014. Lee is 6-2 with the company and Friday was without a doubt his most impressive effort. Other than one really lousy performance against Leonardo Santos in December, Lee has improved every single time that we have seen him in the octagon. Fighting in arguably the deepest division in the company doesn't help matters, but it's not out of the question that Lee could find himself a top-ten ranked lightweight by the end of 2016.
Fantasy AnalysisIt wasn't a very impressive effort from Lee, but it was enough to get him back into the win column. Lee is an explosive athlete and he displays great movement on the feet, but he has been inconsistent during his fights. He started fast in this one, easily winning Round 1, but he slowed dramatically in the second frame before picking up the pace late to earn the win. At age-23, Lee is still learning the finer points of MMA and he has a ton of potential, but this marks back-to-back mediocre efforts. Lee remains a quality prospect, but he could use a dominant effort his next time out. He is now 5-2 in the UFC.
Fantasy AnalysisThat should slow/stop the hype train behind "The Motown Phenom". Lee got dropped with a big one-two combo and then took numerous shots on the ground. He was upset with the stoppage from veteran referee John McCarthy, but it is hard to see what he was complaining about. Not only was Lee a -660 favorite for this fight, but virtually everyone expected to have a massive advantage on the feet. It didn't work out that way. It's one of the things that makes this sport great.
Fantasy AnalysisJust 23 year old, Lee is in prime position to pick up his fifth consecutive victory and continue to ascend the UFC lightweight division. With his only promotional loss coming to contender Al Iaquinta, Lee will look to inflict his smothering wrestling approach on Santos, The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 2 champion.
Fantasy AnalysisLee is one of the brightest prospects in the lightweight division. Lee dropped his UFC debut to Al Iaquinta, but he has won four in a row since. The 22-year-old most recently picked up a first round submission win over James Moontasri last month in San Diego.
Fantasy AnalysisMore good work from "The Motown Phenom". Lee was able to throw Moontasri to the ground and he slowly transitioned to the back and eventually picked up the submission win. After dropping his UFC debut to Al Iaquinta (a fight in which he looked very impressive), Lee has won four straight. Lee's all-around game is terrific. He has heavy hands, he's a terrific wrestler and mat specialist and he keeps himself in terrific shape. At just 22-years old, Lee is one of the brighter prospects on the roster. He also has a bit of an attitude, which is never a bad thing.