Kevin Lee enters new territory on May 18th
Making his welterweight debut against Rafael dos Anjos, Lee looks to avoid two-straight losses for the first time in his career as he squares off with the former champion in the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 10. For Lee, not having to cut those extra 15 pounds has kept his attention at an all-time high for this training camp.
“It’s been a lot more focused.” Lee told MMANews “I’m able to push a lot harder through a lot of my training sessions just because I know I refuel at the end of the night and not have it bog my mind. These fights have always been between the scale first, before I get to the cage and the opponent. It feels a little bit different and I don’t have to constantly stress myself. I’m focused 100% on Rafael, especially taking on dangerous challenger like him.”
Lee (17-4) hopes a new weight class will change his fortune after coming off a unanimous decision loss to Al Iaquinta in their rematch at UFC on FOX 31 in December. The “Motown Phenom” admits he overlooked Iaquinta in that fight and it’s something he doesn’t want to make a habit of again.
“I think I lost some of the focus in there. I didn’t see Al as big of a threat. That’s something I know I have to address anyways. I think you learn a lot from losses. Even though that was a really close fight, I think they could have squeezed it my way. I learned more from that fight than any other. It’s just about keeping the same pace, the fifth round has to look like the first. For this one I’m going to make sure the judges are out of this, because sometimes they don’t know what they’re looking at.”
Lee’s upcoming opponent dos Anjos (28-11) enters this matchup on a two-fight skid, losing the interim welterweight title fight to Colby Covington at UFC 225 and most recently suffering a setback against current welterweight kingpin Kamaru Usman at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale in December. The former lightweight title holder has never lost three-straight fights in his career and Lee is expecting a tough outing against the Brazilian standout. The Xtreme Couture product believes this will be a fight the fans will remember and dos Anjos will bring the best out of him.
“It’s going to be a hell of a fight, that’s all I ask for. When they approached with dos Anjos I jumped on it because I know he’s going to show up to fight. I think I’m going to go out, put my chin down and throw some punches. We’ll see who takes that first step back but if he doesn’t it’s going to be a hell of a fight, I’m preparing for war. I’m preparing to get bloody, have some fun. The causal fans know me, but I haven’t that Israel Adesanya vs. Kelvin Gastelum type fight yet in the UFC. I know it’s in there, I want it. I think dos Anjos is going to give it to me.”
UFC on ESPN+ 10 takes place May 18 at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York.