Despite a highlight reel finish of Gregor Gillespie at UFC 244, Kevin Lee isn’t letting himself celebrate.
New York, NY — Kevin Lee made a statement in his return to the lightweight division on Saturday. Knocking out highly touted (and previously undefeated) prospect Gregor Gillespie at UFC 244, ‘The Motown Phenom’ reminded the MMA world why he once fought for interim gold.
Message delivered. It was one of the most memorable moments at the UFC’s 500th event, a monumental show at which every fight felt overshadowed by talk of the BMF title.
Lee was not about to be overshadowed, however. In fact, he told reporters including Cageside Press post-fight, he approached his bout with Gillespie like a title fight. “I took him very, very serious. He’s one of the best wrestlers in the division. People really thought he could beat Khabib [Nurmagomedov] in the future. So I took it like it was a championship fight.”
No athlete ever seems to enter a fight unhurt, and Lee was no different ahead of UFC 244. “I hurt my ankle two weeks ago getting ready for this one,” he revealed. “I was telling my coach, ‘If I’m [going to] throw a kick, it’s going to be the left kick, it’s going to be the hurt ankle,’ because I was having trouble pivoting off of it. So when he started dipping his head a little bit, I was like ‘alright, it’s time, let me break out this bad boy.'”
Break it out he did, and it connected. End result, Gillespie laying on the floor, Lee towering over him like a conquering invader.
It was a statement he intended to make from the outset, Lee said. “Of course. Coming back down to the lightweight division, a lot of people forgot. They wrote me out of the top five. I had to make sure I reminded them who’s here, and who’s the real future of the division.”
“Y’all follow the sport more closely than anybody,” he continued, acknowledging the media. “There’s nobody else that you can look at and say ‘this guy is going to rule for a long time.’ I feel like I’ve got to remind people that I’m that guy.”
Despite the win, Lee added that “I’m not totally ready to celebrate yet. I want a gold belt. That’s when you’re going to see me like all smiles, tears and everything. I’ve got a gold belt to win.”
Watch the full UFC 244 post-fight press scrum with Kevin Lee above!