Bantamweight prospect Keith Lee believes the timing of his Bellator 245 matchup against Vinicius Zani couldn’t have been better, as the 23-year-old and his wife are expecting their first child.
“The craziest thing about this whole situation is that so my daughter is due September 18,” Lee told MMANews. “The fight of September 11. In the state of Nevada, maternity leave is unpaid. I didn’t know that. I thought maternity leave was paid like most states. My wife went on maternity leave I would say three weeks ago. And before that, I had been bugging my manager nonstop to give me a fight since March. Nothing was going on, they really couldn’t find anything. I had a conversation with (my wife) three weeks ago before I got the announcement. We had a conversation about how we didn’t have any money coming in and she was leaving on maternity leave. The next day my manager calls me, (telling me) about the fight on September 11. I’m sitting there like, do I take this fight and risk seeing my daughter born? It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made in my life but I believe honestly and God that I made the right decision.”
Lee (6-3) is coming off an impressive promotional debut in Febuarty where he picked up a decision over Shawn Bunch at Bellator 239. The Xtreme Couture product was initially slated to take on Dominic Mazzota but will now face Zani in a 140-pound catchweight bout.
Zani (11-6) has dropped back-to-back fights against Ricky Simon and Josh Hill after amassing a four-fight win streak. The 32-year-old will look to avoid three straight losses for the first time in his career.
Despite the opponent swtich up, Lee likes his chances on Friday night as he looks to earn his second straight victory under the Bellator banner.
“I’m gonna come forward when I want (and) use my feet when I want,” Lee said. “I think I’m going to do a really good job of being fluent, getting takedowns when I want them. If he does decide to wrestle with me, I’ll scramble and I’ll just win scrambles by being more aggressive, being tenacious. The key is to fight is to just be me, using a good jab. No disrespect towards him, but there’s nobody any promotion now that I feel like when I’m on my game, that has a chance to stop me.”
Bellator 245 takes place Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Former light heavyweight champion Phil Davis rematches Lyoto Machida in the main event.