Last week, UFC lightweight contender Kevin Lee made his welterweight move official. It’s something he has been thinking about since his loss to Al Iaquinta in their rematch last December, pointing to his struggles to make the 155-pound limit as one of the primary motives.
But on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, “The Motown Phenom” gave another reason for his decision.
“A lot of [the lightweight division] kinda went stagnant, which is a real shame,” Lee said (via MMA Fighting). “I mean, it’s always been one of the best divisions in the UFC. There’s just so many ups and so many questions. And part of me was like, this is where I said I wanted to be, and this is where I started and where I’m gonna finish, especially with fighting Khabib. But when I looked at it, like, okay, I’m not going to sit around and wait.
“It’s too many politics going on. Like you said, Max is now fighting Dustin, Tony’s sitting out — which, I’m sad about that whole situation — and all these other things, and nobody wants to fight, and guys only want these certain fights just to push them up, and Conor’s kinda calling the shots still. And I’m like, you know what, f—k all of this. I’m mostly worried about me anyway.
“To me, I’m the top dog. So it’s what’s best for my career and going forward.”
Lee says he is not closing his doors on the 155-pound division, and foresees his next lightweight fight before the year ends.
“Those fights are still going to be out there,” he said. “I still am 100 percent confident I can make 155 again, but we’ll see after. I prefer this fight at 170; 155, they need to get their shit together. That’s all.
“I think it’ll come together towards the end of this year, but I wasn’t about to sit around and wait for them.”
Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmgamedov is expected to be sidelined until October for his involvement in the UFC 229 post-fight brawl against Conor McGregor’s team. To fix this jam, the UFC booked an interim title fight between Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier at UFC 236 on April 13th.
As for Lee, he will be making his 170-pound debut against former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos as the headliner for the UFC’s event in Rochester, New York on May 18th.