Kevin Lee failed to make weight on his first attempt to hit his mark for his interim Lightweight title fight against Tony Ferguson, which went down last night (Sat., Oct. 7, 2017) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Thankfully, “The Motown Phenom” managed to hit the mark on his second attempt an hour later, allowing the fight to go on. So why did Lee, who has never had a scale fail, struggle in his biggest fight of the year?
It’s all due to a bad staph infection that troubled him during his weight cut. Lee revealed the bit of news during his post-fight speech. And perhaps what was more interesting was the fact that he was able to hide it from the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) and UFC doctors.
“I feel like that was a huge factor. The staph infection didn’t really help. I have been fighting it for over a week now, and it didn’t make it easier,” said Lee during the post-fight presser. “I’m sitting here now at about 185 pounds, a little too big for the weight class now. I have been fighting at this weight class since I started MMA at 17. It’s about time for me to go up and get bigger, stronger.”
Not a good look, NSAC.
Still, Lee says staph infection or not, Ferguson was the better man.
“Maybe that played a factor, but regardless Tony was the better fighter tonight. I have said it before, I thought he was the toughest fight in this division. I tried to step up, but, what can I do?”
Despite dealing with staph during an already brutal weight cut where he shed nearly 20 pounds in 24 hours, Lee said nothing was going to stop him from making it to UFC 216.
“The weight cut was what it was,” Lee said. “I wasn’t going to let down the whole show, let down everybody. I was going to make the weight, even if I had to cut my foot off or something. It damn near killed me. I just had to do what I had to do. I got a job to do. I’m a professional. I’m going to come out here no matter how bad it hurts. … By the third round it just was too much for me.”
According to UFC president Dana White, Lee was offered help to make the cut easier with the aide of the experts at the UFC performance Institute. But, at the end of the day, White says Lee opted to do it his way, though it was obvious UFC officials had no clue about Lee’s staph infection.
“He’s a grown man. I can’t tell him what to do,” White said via MMA Junkie. “Either you want to come in and do it the right way, or you want to do it your way. That’s up to him.”
To hear Lee tell it, he didn’t want the promotion to have to cancel yet another title fight after the last few events saw that exact same thing happen.
“I tried my best to hide it. It was a big event. A lot had been happening with UFC at the last couple of events and I wasn’t going to let nobody down. I worked my whole life for this. It was like a culmination of things. But, I’m not going to let this stop me. I am still going to be a world champion. It might not happen when I’m 25.”
While the move can be viewed as admirable in some way — especially due to this — Lee putting his life on the line by trying to shed a lot of weight in such a short period of time with an infection is nothing to take lightly and simply isn’t worth it just to save an event.
And on the heels of his revelation, you can bet the promotion — as well as athletic commissions — will be keeping an eyes on stuff like this moving forward.
For complete UFC 216 results and coverage click here.