Keen followers of MMA outside of the UFC are likely no stranger to Andrea ‘KGB’ Lee. The 8-2 flyweight had, until recently, hopped back and forth between the promotions Invicta, LFA, and Legacy; doing extremely well in each of them. This Saturday she makes her UFC debut versus Veronica Macedo (5-1-1) at UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Usman.
Lee is a former flyweight champion for both LFA and Legacy. In Invicta she went 4-2 with losses only coming to current UFC fighter Roxanne Modafferi and Bellator/Strikeforce veteran Sarah D’Alelio.
“I feel very good about everything I accomplished with those promotions,” said Lee to Bloody Elbow when discussing her jump to the UFC. “I feel like I accomplished a lot there considering I was able to win both titles and defend my titles. In Invicta I wish that I would have had an opportunity to fight for their title, that would have made everything more complete in my opinion. But other than that I’m very happy and excited with everything that I’ve done and I love Invicta and I’m thankful for all the the opportunities that I had.”
Lee was supposed to enter the UFC last year against Kalindra Faria (at UFC 216). However, the 29-year-old was pulled from the fixture in order to fulfill USADA obligations. But now, barring any unforeseen circumstances, there’s nothing stopping Lee from making the walk to the Octagon this weekend.
“I’m excited and just happy that I’m finally getting the opportunity to fight in the UFC,” said Lee. “I’ve been training so hard, and working hard, to get to this point in my life to fight in the UFC and now I finally get to. I’m so happy!”
Lee had been on the UFC’s radar long before she was officially signed last year. She revealed that the promotion tried to recruit her for The Ultimate Fighter 20. That version of TUF, which was shot in 2014, featured a tournament to crown the UFC’s inaugural women’s strawweight champion.
Lee, who has only have fought at flyweight, had to turn the offer down.
“There was no way I was going to make 115. And I just told them that I was comfortable at 125 and I was going to wait until the flyweight division opened up and it finally happened.”
Now she’s made it to the UFC, Lee is expecting a new challenge to go with the new surroundings.
“I think it is a step up in competition. It’s going to be a lot tougher. So many of the girls who are going into the UFC are girls I have been coming up with in Invicta, but I do feel like the best of the best are the one’s who are going to the UFC and I’m hoping to beat the best of the best.”
With the women’s flyweight division being so new, many of the fighters who are ranked still only have a single UFC fight at 125 lbs. Because of this Lee is confident that a win in Chile could see her into the top 15 right away.
To get that win she has to get through Macedo, who debuted at UFC Fight Night: Arlovski vs. Barnett in 2016. She lost that fight via TKO to Ashlee Evans-Smith. Macedo was unbeaten until that point and Lee is impressed with the Venezuelan’s game.
“I think Veronica is a very skilled fighter,” said Lee. “She is a taekwando world champion, multi-time champion, and her style is a lot different from my own. She likes to throw side kicks, spinning hook kicks, a lot of fancy stuff and she’s really good at it. I’m a Muay Thai fighter, but I feel like I’m very well rounded. Even though her style is a little different than mine, I think we match-up well and it will be an exciting fight.”
To get her ready for Macedo, Lee has relied on Karate Mafia; the same team that saw her triumph on smaller stages. Leading that crew is Donny Aaron, who is Lee’s head coach and husband.
“I’ve been with him since the beginning. He’s, in my opinion, the best of the best. I’ve done all of my training camps through him.”
Lee added that in preparation for Macedo she also spent time at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas. She also worked with fellow UFC bantamweight Aspen Ladd.
When crediting her team, Lee said she’s feeling very confident of a victory ahead of her long trip to Chile. However, she wants to do more than just get a W in South America.
“I’m not the type of fighter who will just go through the process and try and get a victory. I want to get in there and impress and put on a good show. I don’t want to do that at the expense of doing something crazy and then losing. I want to be smart, but I want to get in there and put on a good performance. I’m going in for the bonus, so I want to put on a good show.”
You can watch Andrea Lee’s UFC debut this Saturday night. Her fight with Macedo is on the main card, which takes place at 10PM ET and airs on FS1.