Kevin Lee has been in the UFC long enough to know the various challenges that come for fighters dealing with a brutal weight cut, but his challenges appeared more severe than most realized during his time competing in the lightweight division.
Lee will take on Daniel Rodriguez in a welterweight bout after almost a year and a half away from the octagon, and hasn’t competed since he fought current UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira in March 2020 before the Brazilian went on to win the belt. Lee’s weight-cutting issues have been widely documented for years, and he missed weight by a couple of pounds ahead of his fight with Oliveira.
But Lee provided some new insight into one of his most infamous matchups with Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title at UFC 216. Lee looked visibly drained at the official weigh-ins despite making the 155-pound limit but went on to lose by submission in the third round of their fight.
In a recent interview with MMA journalist Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Lee went into greater detail regarding his difficulties cutting down to 155 pounds and how relieved he is to fight at a more natural weight ahead of his UFC Vegas 35 bout.
“The worst cut that I’ve had was the Ferguson fight,” Lee said. “I felt like I was close to death, for sure. If I had to pull off another half-a-pound, I think I would’ve had to go to the hospital. It felt like the biggest adrenaline rush that you can possibly feel. Your body is trying to maintain that homeostasis and keep you stable. It’s one of the biggest reasons why I don’t want to go down anymore.”
Lee has fought at welterweight once before, against Rafael dos Anjos back in May 2019. He was submitted in that fight before moving back down to lightweight and splitting his last two outings in the octagon.
It’ll be interesting to see how Lee performs in the octagon at UFC Vegas 35, especially with not having to worry about cutting the extra weight and allowing himself to focus more on the fight itself.
What do you think needs to be done about weight-cutting in the UFC after hearing Kevin Lee’s story?