It’therefore no secret which the lightweight division, while still being the very best & most talent-rich weight class in all of mixed martial arts, can be also a small mess. It has been for a little while.
UFC lightweight winner Khabib Nurmagomedov is frozen for his UFC 229 post-fight melee and will more than probably be sidelined until late 20-19. The division’s real No. 1 contender, Tony Ferguson, is sidelined indefinitely due to personal problems. The division’s former champion and biggest star, Conor McGregor, is efficiently sidelined forever of his own volition, or until he decides he would like to fight again.
Most of that doubt has resulted in a crippling logjam atop the UFC’s 155-pound roster, that may just get further elaborate once Dustin Poirier and feather weight winner Max Holloway battle to an interim lightweight name at UFC 236.
So with out a clear and intelligible road to make it to where he would like to be in the lightweight name picture, top rival Kevin Lee figured that today could be as good of a time as any to test his hands in the welterweight division, which is exactly what he now ’ll do if he makes his 170-pound advent against Rafael dos Anjos on May 18 at the most important event of UFC Rochester.
“Plenty of [the lightweight division] kinda went stagnant, which will be a real shame,” Lee said Monday about . “I mean, it’s consistently been one of the best divisions from the UFC. There’s only a lot of ups so many questions. As part of me had been like, this is where I said I wanted to be, and that is where I started and where I’m gonna finish, notably with fighting Khabib. However after I looked at it, for example, okay, I’m not going to sit around and waitfor.
“It’s many politics moving on. Like you said, Max is currently fighting Dustin, Tony’s sitting out — which, I’m pretty sad about that whole situation — and each of these other things, and nobody would like to fight, and also guys just want these conflicts just to push up them, and Conor’s rather calling the shots still. And that I ’m like, you know everything, f*ck all of this. So it’s exactly what ’s best for my livelihood and moving forward.
“Those struggles are still going to be available,” continued Lee. “I am 100 per cent convinced I can make 155 again, however we’ll view after. I prefer this fight at 170; 155, they need to get their shit together. This ’s all. I think it’ll bond towards the close of this year, however I wasn’t about to sit around and await them. ”
The movement to welterweight is logical for Lee. As he gets old, the 26-year-old Michigan native has increasingly struggled to produce the 155-pound lightweight limitation. He outright missed weight year because of his victory over Edson Barboza and is certainly an advocate for the introduction of a 165-pound division.
But the timing also makes sense also. Whether it’s Robert Whittaker becoming a UFC winner at 185 lbs, or former middleweights Thiago Santos and Anthony Smith making name runs at 205 lbs, the tendency of boxers finding success by moving up a division and fighting closer to their natural weight has been more commonplace. For more relatable examples, Lee should look no further than Anthony Pettis and Jorge Masvidal, two longtime light weights who suddenly end up in the thick of things in 170 pounds later lately spat out former welterweight title challengers.
“I’m approximately 181 (pounds). I’d like to get much milder, however that I ’ve been around 180, 181 since the past year or year-and-a-half,” Lee explained.
“Once I look at other guys, maybe [I’ll be on small end of welterweight], however Pettis simply revealed too, this past Saturday, some times which size really doesn’however, specially when you’re speaking about rate and endurance. … I feel as I can out-technique lots of those guys. While I see a lot of their wrestling in 170, many it really is quite basic. I believe such as procedure, rate, and strength will magnify their strength. I’ll allow you to know after May 18th how it all goes down. I’m figuring sh*t out with you. ”
Lee said his movement into 170 pounds isn’t even irreversible. He is holding the door open for a possible return to the lightweight division once the name picture figures itself out, however he also isn’t even ruling a run ahead of the UFC’s welterweight championship if things go against dos Anjos. For the time being, every choice is in play, which is a fantastic prospect of Lee plus you he said has placed a fresh “pep in his step” beforehand of UFC Rochester.
“We& & rsquo;ll have to find how it pops up,” Lee explained. “Like you said, Pettis looked great, Masvidal looked great, you’ve got (Ben) Askren out there, you’ve got (Santiago) Ponzinibbio, you’ve got Leon Edwards. And as I said, (Kamaru) Usman’s the champ, therefore ma ma Woodley cautioned him — I’m here, I’m forthcoming . It’s been just admiration between me personally and Usman, and I rather wish to still honor that. But as a competitor, I’m likely to be on his heels. We’ll see after this fight. ”