Andrea Lee was supposed to throw down with Gillian Robertson last December, but a broken nose saw her forced out of the fight. Instead, she’ll make her return this weekend at UFC 262, going up against Antonina Shevchenko — while looking to snap a three-fight skid over some of the top fighters in the flyweight division.
Lee took a knee to the nose in her very last sparring session ahead of the Robertson fight last year. “That was tough,” Lee recalled, speaking to Cageside Press recently. “It was the last 60 seconds, the last final round, I didn’t even have to do another round. We just decided to do another round because I was feeling good, and I wanted to push myself, and then that happened. We went to the hospital, I was pouring blood. It was like a puddle of blood just spewing out from underneath me.”
The flyweight was hoping the nose wasn’t broken, because it wasn’t crooked. “But after we got to the doctor’s and had X-Rays done, they’re like ‘yeah it’s definitely, broken, you should not fight.'” Lee was at risk of deviating her septum if she did fight, which would require surgery. Not that the UFC would have let her fight anyway.
“It was a big downer. It sucked. I was really looking forward to that match-up with Gillian,” said Lee. “And I was prepared, I was ready, it was going to be a fun fight I think. Not being able to fight really hurt me, especially my wallet.”
Now, Lee moves on to Shevchenko, Antonina. Sister of the women’s flyweight division champ Valentina.
“Interestingly enough, my coaches had already sent me a couple of name options,” noted Lee. Antonina was on the list. “We kind of already expected that match-up was going to be coming about, and it did. We’re excited about it.”
As to just why that is, “I think our styles match up well. She’s a really great striker, she’s good at Muay Thai, she’s becoming really well rounded,” observed Lee. “I think it just makes for a good fight.”
When anyone fights Antonina, the subject of her champion sister Valentina inevitably arises. For one, the pair train together and corner one another. For another, it feels like a path to a potential title shot — beat one sister, earn the other. It’s a little less likely given Lee’s recent struggles, and the Texas-born fighter isn’t buying into that sort of storyline regardless.
“I just feel like I’m fighting Antonina, I’m not fighting Valentina. I’m fighting Antonina. Antonina, she’s a great fighter all on her own,” stated Lee. “I don’t feel like I’m fighting both, I know who I’m fighting and it’s just Antonina. I’m not nervous about that at all.”
One thing Lee is focusing on, however, is avoiding the scorecards. Judges have not been kind to “KGB” Lee of late, with her last three fights ending in decision losses — two of them split decisions.
“I don’t plan on leaving it in the hands of the judges. That’s one way to keep the judges from having a say,” exclaimed Lee.
Watch our full interview with Andrea Lee ahead of UFC 262 above! The event takes place Saturday, May 15 at the Toyota Center in Houston, TX.