77°F
weather icon Clear

Kevin Lee’s UFC welterweight move may not be temporary

Updated May 17, 2019 - 5:04 pm

There wasn’t some grand plan when UFC lightweight contender Kevin Lee agreed to take a welterweight bout against Rafael dos Anjos on Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 152 card in Rochester, New York.

Lee just wanted a fight.

“The main thing, especially after the last performance, was just to get out there and fight again,” the Las Vegan said by phone from western New York ahead of his main event matchup scheduled for ESPN Plus. “When they approached with dos Anjos, No. 1, I knew he was going to take the fight. No. 2, I knew he’d show up and give me a good fight. That made more sense to me than anything. He’s my first former world champion, somebody who has already been at the top of the top for me to face and see where I’m at.”

After going through the camp and experiencing a fight-week free of the worry and constant stress of a weight cut to 155 pounds, the 26-year-old Lee thinks he may have found a new home at 170.

“As I get closer and kind of understanding how the camp went and how I’m feeling, it might be that I’m a welterweight now,” Lee proclaimed.

That could, of course, change pending the outcome of Saturday’s fight against dos Anjos, a former lightweight champion who has been a perennial contender since moving up to welterweight two years ago.

“He was a world champion and he still is in my eyes,” Lee said. “A belt is a huge thing. I’ve seen a lot of people underestimate that.

“That title next to your name of being a champion, you can’t take that away from someone. You might write the word former next to it or whatever, but at the end of the day, he’s still a UFC champ. He still had that push to get there so it’s still there. It’s definitely something I hold with a lot of respect because I know all the struggle it takes to get there.”

While the buildup to the fight has gone well and Lee has been in a better mood than in past fight weeks where it was a battle just to make weight, he said he doesn’t know for sure whether he will still have the same speed and power in his new division until he actually steps in the cage.

“I’d be lying if I said I haven’t thought about those things,” he said. “The only thing I can do is get in there and do it and we’ll see. If you ask me Sunday, I may have a whole different answer.

“I feel like I’m still just as fast, I feel like I’m in even better shape and a little more durable too. But we’ll see. We’ll see how it plays out and what comes of it.”

Also on the 13-fight card, which begins streaming at 2 p.m., Vicente Luque will take on Derrick Krantz. Luque was scheduled to face Neil Magny until the veteran was forced to pull out of the fight on Monday because of a potential violation of the organization’s anti-doping policy.

Women’s featherweight contender Megan Anderson will be in action against Felicia Spencer.

Woodley out

Former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley suffered a hand injury and has been forced out of a scheduled bout against former champ Robbie Lawler, according to a report by ESPN on Friday. The bout had been set to headline UFC on ESPN 3 on June 29 in Minneapolis.

UFC officials will seek a replacement opponent for Lawler, who missed more than a year before returning to action in a submission loss to Ben Askren in March.

Woodley had been looking to bounce back from losing his belt to Kamaru Usman on that same UFC 235 card.

Faber teases comeback

UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber took to social media this week to indicate his interest in taking a fight when the organization returns to his hometown of Sacramento, California, in July.

Faber, 40, stepped away from the sport after defeating Brad Pickett in a bantamweight bout in Sacramento in December 2016.

He went into the Hall of Fame the following year.

“I know my baby is keeping me young, but a good ol’ fist fight could help the cause,” Faber, whose daughter Cali was born in March, wrote on social media. “UFC Sacramento on the Horizon, 145 or 135 and who would be fun?”

UFC Fight Night 155 will take place at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center on July 13.

More MMA: Follow at CoveringTheCage.com and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Covering The Cage Videos
Dana White signs four fighters to the UFC - Video
Four fighters were put under contract with the UFC following their performances at Dana White's Contender Series on Tuesday night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Contender Series fighters react to being signed to the UFC
After making history as the first batch of winners to all earn contracts following their performances at Dana White's Contender Series, the fighters react to making it to the UFC.
Dana White signs all five winners at Contender Series
For the first time in the three-season history of Dana White's Contender Series, every winning fighter earned a UFC contract. Maki Pitolo, Joe Solecki, Antonio Trocoli, Hunter Azure and Jonathan Pearce impressed the UFC brass and were awarded contracts by the UFC president.
Jones says he was confident he secured a win over Santos at UFC 239 - Video
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones continued his reign by taking a split decision victory over Thiago Santos at UFC 239. He discusses the close call and entertains the idea of a trilogy bout with Daniel Cormier. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 recap: Jones and Nunes retain their titles - VIDEO
Jon Jones and Amanda Nunes both retained their titles at UFC 239. Jones took a decision over Thiago Santos in the main event and Nunes scored a first-round knockout of Holly Holm. Jorge Masvidal also made promotional history on July 6 by scoring a 5-second knockout over Ben Askren. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Amanda Nunes on her win over Holly Holm at UFC 239 - Video
Amanda Nunes talks about continuing her reign as a two-division champion in the UFC after defeating Holly Holm with a head kick in the first round of their title bout at UFC 239. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239: Masvidal makes UFC history with 5-second knockout - Video
Jorge Masvidal discusses his history-making knockout of Ben Askren at UFC 239 and makes his case for a shot at the welterweight title next. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fighters at UFC 239 react to the 7.1 earthquake - Video
Fighters at UFC 239 talk about what they experienced when the 7.1 earthquake was felt in Las Vegas on Friday night. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 Ceremonial Weigh-in Staredowns - Video
All fighters competing at UFC 239 on July 6 at the T-Mobile Arena faced off against each other one last time before their bouts take place. In the main event, Jon Jones will put his light heavyweight belt on the line against Thiago Santos. In the co-main event, Amanda Nunes will look to continue her reign as the women's bantamweight champion when she takes on Holly Holm.
UFC 239: Jon Jones says he wants to make a statement - VIDEO
Prior to UFC 239, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones says he's trying to challenge himself, set his own records to establish his legacy and explains how he's become comfortable with where he is in his career. He will put his title on the line in the main event against Thiago Santos. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 Official Weigh-in Results
All 24 fighters competing at UFC 239 on July 6 at the T-Mobile Arena made weight at the official weigh-in at the New York-New York hotel-casino on Friday. The main event features UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones putting his belt on the line against Thiago Santos. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 Preview: Jones vs. Santos
Prior to UFC 239, the Review-Journal's Adam Hill and Heidi Fang break down the main event between Jon Jones and Thiago Santos for the light heavyweight title, the co-main championship tilt between Holly Holm and reigning bantamweight queen Amanda Nunes, and preview a feature bout between Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 media day: Masvidal says he has faced tougher competition than Askren
Ahead of facing rising UFC welterweight Ben Askren, promotional veteran Jorge Masvidal says he's faced tougher opponents in the past. Askren says don't be shocked by his approach to the fight at UFC 239 on July 6 at the T-Mobile Arena. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 open workouts: Jones thanks fans for support through his dark times
At UFC 239 open workouts, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones thanked fans for their support during his "controversial moments" and says he wants to be more active through 2020. His challenger Thiago Santos says he will "shock the world" on July 6 and be the new division champion. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC 239 open workouts: Holm wants to shock her naysayers
Holly Holm will look to reclaim the UFC women's bantamweight title when she faces two-division champion Amanda Nunes in the co-main event of UFC 239 at the T-Mobile Arena on July 6. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
White: I'm looking for different things on this show - VIDEO
UFC president Dana White spoke with media following the second episode of the third season of his show "Dana White's Contender Series". He explained why he signed the two fighters he did after their performances and discussed the heat he's taking for not signing Brendan Loughnane last week. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC's Francis Ngannou says he never doubted himself after losses - Video
UFC heavyweight Francis Ngannou will face Junior dos Santos at UFC on ESPN 3 in Minneapolis, Minn., on June 29 in a bout that could determine the next title contender. After losing in a title bout to Stipe Miocic in 2018, Ngannou says he never doubted himself. He also talks about meeting former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dana White on Contender Series contracts: "I'm looking for killers." - Video
On opening night at the UFC's newest facility, the UFC Apex, the promotion signed Punahele Soriano and Yorgan De Castro to contracts after their performances on Dana White's Contender Series. UFC president Dana White explains why he signed the fighters he did. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC Apex is the promotion's newest cutting-edge facility - VIDEO
The UFC Apex will officially open as Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series kicks off on June 19. Here's a look at what the promotion's newest facility in Las Vegas has to offer. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC President Dana White on the UFC Apex, ESPN deal, when Conor McGregor could return and more - Video
UFC President Dana White gave the Review-Journal an exclusive interview where he spoke about the promotion's new facility, the UFC Apex, their new deal with ESPN, when Conor McGregor may return to the octagon and more. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Shevchenko says defending the UFC flyweight belt is her number one challenge - Video
UFC women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko claimed the vacant title when she defeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 231 last December. She will put the belt on the line for the first time in Chicago, Ill., when she faces Jessica Eye at UFC 238 on June 8. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UFC title contender Jessica Eye says her move to Las Vegas gives her an edge - Video
Ohio native Jessica Eye says she moved to Las Vegas to get an edge in performance ahead of facing UFC women's flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 238 in Chicago, Ill., on June 8. (Heidi Fang / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
UFC 240: Max Holloway beats Edgar, Cyborg wins

Reigning featherweight champ Max Holloway defended his belt Saturday, overwhelming former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar at UFC 240.