Kevin Lee knows he’s the most well-rounded fighter in the UFC’s lightweight division. He plans on proving it against Edson Barboza at UFC Atlantic City on Saturday.
Atlantic City, NJ — Compared to how things went prior to his last bout, Kevin Lee is feeling much, much better heading into the main event of UFC Fight Night 128 this weekend. That last outing was his UFC 216 interim title fight against Tony Ferguson, of course. Lee entered the cage back in October boasting a blatantly horrid staph infection, standing out on his chest like a mutated birth mark. The infection, which no doubt led to some struggles making weight for the bout (though he eventually did make the championship limit) certainly didn’t help his performance that night. Luckily, at UFC Atlantic City, there are no such concerns.
Lee told Cageside Press on Thursday at the UFC Fight Night 128 media day that he was feeling much better. Beyond that, he addressed both his opponent, Edson Barboza, and the man now holding the lightweight championship: Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“My body feels good. I think I’m as lean as I’ve ever been,” Lee said in regards to how he was feeling heading into the main event at UFC Atlantic City. “Body feels good, mind feels good, the stress is gone. I think that’s where that infection and all those things were coming from. That’s been one of the biggest focuses this camp.”
Lee has been known for a bit of trash talking at times. However, the build-up to his bout with Barboza has been cordial by comparison. Pressed on what he needs to watch for from the Brazilian striker, Lee told us that “he’s definitely one of the best strikers at lightweight. He’s been that way for a long time.” Not only that, “he’s well rounded too,” Lee added. “He’s going to try and clear up some of those holes. The man’s never lost two in a row. Even those holes that showed up against Khabib and some of those other guys, he’s going to clear those up, and I’m expecting the best version [of Edson Barboza].”
That having been said, Lee added that “I feel I’m the most well-rounded fighter in this division for a reason. And I can pick the holes that he don’t even know is there.”
“To myself, more than anything,” Lee replied when asked whether he was looking to prove anything to anyone — the fans, UFC, or the man with the title — against Barboza. “Any time I’ve lost in this game,” he continued, “it’s always been mental, or been myself. I’m just looking to overcome that as I get older and get more experience.”
Just a few weeks ago, Khabib Nurmagomedov captured the UFC’s lightweight title. The win came against Al Iaquinta — who at the time was ranked outside the top ten. Lee has been calling for a fight with the new champion for some time. Giving his take on his rival’s performance at UFC 223, where many felt Khabib looked shoddy on the feet late in the bout, Lee said “he looked the same. I saw those holes a long time ago.”
“He looked like I thought he was going to look,” Lee added. “Al went out there, Al withstood some things, Al made some adjustments. But if he would have made those adjustments, or if he would of had a full camp earlier, it would have looked like a different fight.”
However, “It’s definitely going to look like a different fight when I get my hands on him.”
Catch Kevin Lee in the main event of UFC Fight Night 128 in Atlantic City, New Jersey this Saturday. You catch watch Thursday’s full press scrum with Lee above.