It took Kevin Lee two attempts to hit his mark for his interim Lightweight title fight against Tony Ferguson, which went down last weekend (Sat., Oct. 7, 2017) in Las Vegas, Nevada, and ultimately saw “El Cucuy” submit “The Motown Phenom” via triangle choke.
After the loss, Lee took to the post-fight presser (video replay) to reveal a possible move up to Welterweight in order to avoid further brutal weight cuts down to 155 pounds.
Robert Follis — Lee’s head coach — isn’t convinced a move up is the best decision for Kevin’s career at the moment.
“I know Kevin talked about it right after the fight, but we haven’t discussed it as a camp yet,” Follis said in an interview with ESPN. “Obviously, it’s a possibility — but I’m not sold that’s happening yet,” he added.
While Follis admits the drop down is tough for his fighter, he acknowledges there are other methods they can try to make it a bit easier for him in the future.
“I like him at 155 pounds. We’ve got to do something to make that cut a little easier, but he’s worked his way to the top there. Right now, I think 155 is good, but 170 is not out of reach. He’s capable of putting on size.”
Kevin admittedly dropped 19 pounds in the span of 24 hours, which isn’t good for anyone, and revealed he was battling a staph infection which only made his cut down that much tougher.
Follis, though, isn’t a fan of weigh-cutting altogether, as it does more bad than good and says it’s up to athletic commission to figure out a solution.
“There are some huge jumps between weight classes and people are trying to morph their bodies to fit a weight that isn’t natural,” Follis said. “Long term, it would be best to see weight cuts cleaned out. I’d love to see commissions come together and remove them from the equation. How much someone can sweat shouldn’t be a factor in who wins a fight,” he added.
“Kevin and Tony are similar in size, but they’ve got to torture themselves to get to a weight class. They can’t just make a gentleman’s agreement and fight at 170, because then they can’t win a belt at 155. The whole weight class would have to agree to it. This really comes down to commissions making a change for fighter safety and health. It’s frustrating that it doesn’t get addressed more.”
Still, the reason why fighters cut down isn’t lost on Follis, saying it’s pretty much a necessary evil if fighters want to remain competitive and ultimately vie for a world title.
“This is a guy who is on a diet 365 days a year,” Follis said. “I work with a lot of fighters who have tough weight cuts. What Kevin faces isn’t rare. It’s hard to be small in a weight class and be world class. It’s an exception to the rule, not the norm,” he says.
“If you want to remain competitive, you can’t just say, ‘Okay, I’ll fight up and give away 15 pounds to a guy who is equally tough and skilled as me.’ If one of these contenders moves up and the rest don’t, well that one is at a huge disadvantage. The weight cut, I’m sure it started off with someone doing it for an advantage, but now everybody is doing it. The fact these commissions aren’t addressing it is really them dropping the ball.”
UFC president Dana White recently nixed any and all talks of adding more divisions such as the 165-pound weight class, and reiterated that there are plenty of experts at the UFC’s Performance Institute who are on standby to assist any UFC athlete with their cuts.
Lee, however, declined the assistance according to White.