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UFC Rochester: Kevin Lee Says State of 155 Division Led to Move

Kevin Lee is headed to welterweight for his next bout, and the former lightweight contender says the state of the 155 division was the main reason why.

Kevin Lee is headed to welterweight for his next bout, and the former lightweight contender says the state of the 155 division was the main reason why.

For some time, Lee talked about the possibility of moving up to 170, on account of how much weight he cuts to make lightweight. Lee was, and likely still is, a big proponent for a 165 division, but there’s no evidence the UFC is going to add one anytime soon.

Well, more recently, it was reported Lee is going to face former lightweight champ, Rafael dos Anjos, at UFC Rochester, May 18th. But, during a recent episode of “The MMA Hour”, the vaunted grappler made it clear that weight cutting isn’t the main reason he’s making the jump (quotes via MMA Fighting):

“A lot of [the lightweight division] kinda went stagnant, which is a real shame,” Lee said. “I mean, it’s always been one of the best divisions in the UFC. There’s just so many ups and so many questions. And part of me was like, this is where I said I wanted to be, and this is where I started and where I’m gonna finish, especially with fighting Khabib. But when I looked at it, like, okay, I’m not going to sit around and wait.

“It’s too many politics going on. Like you said, Max is now fighting Dustin, Tony’s sitting out — which, I’m sad about that whole situation — and all these other things, and nobody wants to fight, and guys only want these certain fights just to push them up, and Conor’s kinda calling the shots still. And I’m like, you know what, f*ck all of this. I’m mostly worried about me anyway. To me, I’m the top dog. So it’s what’s best for my career and going forward.”

Now, yes, some will argue that Lee’s just saying this because he’s lost two of his last three fights. But, that overlooks the fact he’s still ranked #5 in the lightweight division, and that he’s not long removed from a one-sided win over Edson Barboza. So, in other words, one more big win at 155 and Lee could possibly be back in the title shot mix.

In addition, what Lee said about the state of the lightweight division is pretty accurate. Case in point, it wasn’t long ago Dustin Poirier was calling for the UFC to release him, since no moves were being made at the top of the division. Now Poirier is set to fight Max Holloway for an interim belt on April 16th, but it’s not clear what’s next for the likes of Conor McGregor and Tony Ferguson, who are both ranked ahead of Lee. The champ Khabib Nurmagomedov isn’t expected to fight again until Q4.

So, it will be interesting to see if Lee can make some noise at welterweight. A win over RDA would be a good start in that respect.

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