Kevin Lee fighting for more than just a win at UFC Fight Night 128
Former lightweight title contender Kevin Lee will return to the Octagon this Saturday against Edson Barboza for the first time since he lost to Tony Ferguson at UFC 216 in an interim title fight. Adversity is nothing new to Lee and he faced that when he entered the Octagon with a very visible staph infection which certainly didn’t help his cause in the fight.
Lee quickly rose in his quest for a title and his microphone skills being just as good as his Octagon skills certainly helped the launch, but deeper inside, overcoming adversity is what triumphs Kevin Lee’s verbal and physical skills. Following the loss to Ferguson last fall, tragedy struck Lee not just as a fighter but also as a person when his coach Robert Follis passed away by suicide. Following Follis’ passing, not only did Lee need time to grieve but he needed time to adjust and find the right team to coach him for his return.
Now, heading back into the Octagon after tragedy and a disappointing result in his last fight, Kevin Lee is certainly fighting for more than just a win in Atlantic City against Barboza. To start, he’s entering enemy territory and fighting his opponent in Atlantic City, New Jersey which is right in the backyard of the Barboza’s head coach, Mark Henry.
More than anything, Kevin Lee certainly wants to get back into the win column after dropping his fight against Ferguson, and a win against Barboza puts him right back into the top of the lightweight division. A win not only solidifies his standing in the division but it also sets Lee up for some exciting matchups if he does come out victorious.
That’s all on the line for Lee, but an even greater task that lies ahead of him is to once again, overcome adversity which is what he’s done every single day. Moving from Detroit to Vegas to pursue his career as a professional fighter, bringing his family along with him including his younger brother who is also chasing a fighting career, it’s always been about more than just Kevin Lee himself. He fought Tony Ferguson just days after the Las Vegas Massacre, took the fight while enduring a staph infection on his chest, and then the tragic passing of his coach.
As he has time and time again both inside the Octagon and outside of it, Lee has shown that no adversity is greater than him. It takes a lot for a fighter to overcome every roadblock that has come Lee’s way and still maintain focus while having to also reassemble his coaching staff around him.
A fighter’s head coach is normally just more than a coach, it’s a mentor, a friend, and the person who understands that fighter better than almost anyone else around him. Now, Lee has had to go out and find another head coach to replace a man that was once his biggest mentor and one of the closest people to him.
Coming into the fight against Barboza, Lee will have some new faces in his corner, he’ll have rejuvenated energy as he looks to climb back up in his division, and he’ll be looking to make a statement far greater than just a victory. That statement Lee can make? No loss inside the Octagon and no adversity outside the fight game, can hold down the MoTown Phenom.
If all goes according to plan, Lee has been very vocal about getting a fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov and a victory could only lead to another call-out of the new lightweight champion.
Mike Pendleton is a current contributor to MyMMANews while also hosting his “On The Mic” podcast and is a former Associate Producer at Sirius XM’s Fight Nation.
With a special passion for interviewing and talking to the very best around the fight game, you can read or listen to Mike’s work across his multiple outlets.
Follow me on Twitter: @MP2310