Kevin Lee is looking past his loss to interim champion Tony Ferguson and is ready to continue his quest to the top of the lightweight division.
To some fighters suffering a loss at a pivotal moment can be debilitating for their confidence and momentum, that is not the case with UFC lightweight Kevin Lee. ‘The Motown Phenom’ rose up the UFC lightweight rankings in spectacular fashion to receive a title shot in October.
Unfortunately for Lee, that fight did not go his way.
“I’m only 25, I’m just getting started in the game I think the sky’s the limit,” Lee said on Sunday’s episode of Cage Side Submissions radio. “Losing the last fight, it’s going to be a blessing in disguise for me really just because when you get to a certain level every gym you go to you step in and the guys get caught up in that, so they quit learning, they stick to what they already know. They stop trying new things just because they don’t want to lose. I think it’s a blessing that I don’t walk around with that belt right now just because I’m still in that learning phase.”
Following the loss at UFC 216, Lee experienced another loss in his life, his longtime coach and friend Robert Follis, who passed away in December.
“A lot of people know my coach Robert Follis passed away about a month and a half ago so right now I’m in the rebuilding of my camp process before I get another fight going,” Lee said. “We’re looking at May, June. I feel my body is ready I just have to structure the training camp behind me. I’m looking at some interesting fights, I have a lot of options on the table.”
One potential opponent that has popped up recently is Nate Diaz who recently expressed interest in returning to the Octagon. Diaz put a post on his social media stating that he was tired of waiting around and would like to fight. Since then Diaz has not accepted any offers from his division, including a call out from Lee.
“I don’t know how folks jumped on the Nate bandwagon so hard, folks just think he is such a fighter, but the man doesn’t want to fight, that’s the bottom line,” Lee said. “If a man doesn’t want to fight, I’m not a bully. I’m not going to keep berating him and going at him. He is in and out of Vegas all the time, I see him in the store here a lot, me and him we will get into a little conversation here and there, but I’m not going to berate a man that doesn’t want to fight. If he doesn’t want to fight ok, we won’t worry about it. He doesn’t want to fight, if he does he damn sure ain’t going to fight someone like me, he’s going to fight somebody like Eddie (Alvarez) who is on his way out.”
With Nate Diaz out of the picture for the moment, Lee has his sight set on the rest of the 155-pound division. The situation in the top ten of the lightweight division is very interesting at this point with Conor McGregor potentially being stripped and Tony Ferguson fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov in April. By the summer the rankings in this division will look very different, the question is where will Kevin Lee find himself among the top ten?
“Right now I’m looking at Barboza, I think Barboza is a great fight, a really good matchup for me. He fought a lot of the guys who are at the top and I’m gonna whoop his ass harder than Khabib did,” Lee explained. “I’m also looking at somebody like Eddie Alvarez who is up there without a fight, he’s sitting on the sidelines, he’s trying to avoid me as much as he can. There’s a couple of fights that I’m looking at, that I’m interested in. They are not all necessarily above me, obviously, that were you want to look but really those rankings don’t mean sh*t, and they don’t mean sh*t to me.”