Andrea Lee is entering what she considers her “toughest fight yet” in a very good place.
The flyweight, affectionately known as “KGB,” has won two straight. A third consecutive win, against Viviane Araujo, could land the #9 ranked fighter on the cusp of the top five.
Along the way, she’s had plenty of help, including from partner and fellow UFC fighter Tony Kelley, who obviously knows her better than just about anyone. As to Kelley’s role in her corner, that’s a little harder to pin down.
“I guess you would say head coach. It’s not a role that he really wanted to have, because he’s also a fighter,” Lee (13-5) told Cageside Press recently. “So he’s never really been trying to be a coach, but he wants to help me. So he doesn’t mind helping and coaching me and giving me some of the techniques and stuff that he does. I guess he’s kind of embracing it, but at the same time he’s still a fighter too, and he needs coaching himself.”
Lee is getting back to work a little later than she had hoped, or at least not necessarily where she had hoped. That was a date in Texas, but she missed out on the UFC 271 card in Houston back in February — and, as it turns out, was booked well ahead of the recently announced UFC Austin event.
“KGB” did petition to get on the Houston show, to no avail. “Since the card was filled, I just had to wait until Mick Maynard [UFC matchmaker] had something available. And they did, they offered me a fight in Brazil against Viviane as well, but I didn’t want to go to Brazil,” Lee revealed. “I was like, it’s not the fight, I don’t want to turn her down, but I don’t want to go to Brazil, because I’m not getting vaccinated, and I don’t want to deal with all the flights and stuff.”
As it turned out, the UFC opted to keep the match-up together, and moved it to the U.S. (as it stands, the promotion has yet to announce their return to Brazil, despite rumors earlier in the year).
In the meantime, Lee has been busy training, and pulling mom duty. Her daughter, who has grown up around the fight game, recently took offense to an interview she found online featuring mom Andrea saying her daughter didn’t see fighting as a sport. It seems, said Lee, that her daughter has changed her thinking as she’s gotten older. Still, her day job seems cooler to her daughter’s friends than to her daughter herself.
“It’s just something that she’s always been around, so I dunno, mom’s a UFC fighter, I guess it’s cool to say but I don’t think it really meant anything,” Lee told us. “But to her friends, it’s really cool. And I guess her friends, when she sees their reactions, it means more to her. She confuses me sometimes, she’s back and forth!”
Welcome to parenthood. But navigating her child through the online world and navigating motherhood period is especially treacherous for a public figure who went through a very serious public breakup with her ex a few years back. Lee knows that all the details are out there, including some that aren’t based in fact.
“That’s a really good question. I don’t know, it’s tough. It’s really hard. There’s a lot of things that are on the internet that aren’t necessarily true, too. If it came from my mouth, it’s true. But it’s like, don’t believe everything else that you hear,” she said of the incident, and the maelstrom of headlines and media coverage it generated. “If you see something that’s on the internet, typically it’s just to sell the story. There’s headlines that are out there that are like ‘Andrea KGB Lee was burned by her husband.’ That didn’t happen, but that was a caption to draw people in, to get them to read their story. But if you didn’t hear it from me and it’s not a quote from me, then don’t believe it otherwise.”
Lee is clearly in a much better place these days, putting both her personal issues and a three-fight skid behind her. Getting past the losing streak forced her to do “a lot of reflecting,” she admitted. In essence, she had to find herself again. “I think with these last two fights, I was able to do that.”
Mentally, Lee said, “I’m a lot better, I’m in a lot better place.” Changing up her training has helped as well. “Making it fun again I think was a big thing for me.”
“I feel like now I’m getting better. I feel like I’m growing, I’m learning things every day, and I’m adding new tools to the things that I’m already good at. And it’s like, I can just see myself becoming a better fighter, a better athlete overall. And I just, I’m happier. And I think that really helps a lot.”
After losing for the first time in the UFC, doubt began to creep in, KGB Lee admitted. “I lost my fight against Joanne Calderwood, and then that’s sort of where the doubt started to creep in. And then I lost my second fight, and then it’s like ‘crap!’ I really put myself out there in that fight, and felt like I left it all in the cage, and I still lost that fight. And then my third fight came along. It’s just easy to continue to doubt yourself, and that seed will continue to grow, and you’ve got to do something before it completely takes over. And I feel like I did that, and I feel like the people around me have helped tremendously.”
Watch our full interview with UFC Vegas 54’s Andrea Lee above. “KGB” Lee faces Viviane Araujo on Saturday, May 14, 2022 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.