Lightweight contender Kevin Lee fell short in his rematch with Al Iaquinta on Saturday night and subsequently took a big step back in the division.
His disappointment with the unanimous decision loss in the main event of UFC of Fox 31 in Milwaukee was evident immediately after the fight.
“I’m devastated,” the Las Vegan said after losing a decision to Iaquinta for the second time. “Embarrassed. You know these sports sometimes have like the lowest of lows. I really (haven’t felt) lower than I do right now, but I’ll be alright. You know, I might not get another shot at Al (Iaquinta). I’ve fought a lot of great fighters in my career and he’s definitely up there amongst them. We’ll see what happens once everything gets settled down.”
Lee has been pushing for a new 165-pound division, something that has often been discussed even though UFC officials have repeatedly denied is imminent. It would definitely help Lee, whose brutal weight cuts to 155 pounds seem to have impacted his performance on multiple occasions.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, the lightweight champion Lee was hoping to challenge had he won on Saturday, indicated he believes ego may be the thing holding Lee back in his championship pursuits.
“Stay humble Kevin Lee,” Nurmagomedov posted on social media after the fight. “Humble is the key.”
Lee, a Detroit native, appeared to be in better spirits Monday afternoon when he crafted a response.
“I beat racism, the system, poverty, and everybody that (wants to) see me lose for no reason,” he wrote. “(Expletive) being humble.”
Friends in high places
UFC president Dana White was still talking about the sensational UFC 231 show in Toronto on Dec. 9.
He’s not the only one.
White said one of his friends in Washington D.C. had reached out to talk about an event headlined by a thrilling featherweight title bout between Brian Ortega and Max Holloway.
“Last week was amazing,” White said on Fox Sports 1. “President Trump called me last week to talk about the fights. He called me on Tuesday to talk about it. He said he couldn’t stop thinking about it and we talked for like 15 minutes about the fights on Saturday. So yes, that’s when you know you had a great show.”
Trump has been a supporter of the UFC since hosting an event at one of his properties in Atlantic City nearly two decades ago. White spoke on his behalf at the Republican National Convention in 2016.
UFC 235 starting to take shape
The UFC returns to T-Mobile Arena later this month for a massive UFC 232 card, but several fights already have been booked for the organization’s next card at the venue March 2.
Undefeated former Bellator and One Championship champion Ben Askren will make his UFC debut against former UFC welterweight champ Robbie Lawler on the card. The bout had been set for UFC 233 in Anaheim, California, but that event was cancelled last week.
A welterweight bout between Mickey Gall and Diego Sanchez has also been booked for UFC 235.
The UFC schedule will move forward with UFC 234 in Melbourne, Australia, maintaining the name even though there won’t be a UFC 233. Twelve pay-per-view events still are planned for 2019.
No main event has been named for UFC 235, though it is the rumored destination for the return of Nick Diaz.
Jessica-Rose Clark done at flyweight
Las Vegan Jessica-Rose Clark said she will no longer compete at flyweight after a medical issue during her weight cut forced her removal from the UFC on Fox 31 card.
Clark had been scheduled to face Andrea Lee at the event.
She won the first two fights of her UFC career, but missed weight for her debut on short-notice in November 2017.
Clark was successful in her next two cuts, but went 1-1 and struggled to get down to 125 pounds.
She will now go back to 135 pounds for her next fight, which is still to be determined.