Kevin Lee: What's Next?
Last night saw Kevin Lee get submitted by Rafael Dos Anjos in the 4th round of their main event fight at UFC Rochester handing Lee his 3rd loss in his last 4 fights.
Lee’s Welterweight debut did not go as planned, as he proved he doesn’t have the strength or wrestling skills to make a statement at a higher weight class. Although he started the fight well pressuring RDA against the fence, Lee started to tire which saw RDA start to land more takedowns and take control of the fight, before going on to win via arm triangle.
Many fans are now starting to question Lee and what the next move in his career will be, after a few bad losses it can be hard to remember what a fighter was once like at their best, and there is no shame in losing to RDA who has established himself as one of the most consistent well-rounded fighters over the last decade. It’s easy to forget that only last year we saw Lee dominate Edson Barboza before knocking him out in the 5th round - a feat that not many fighters can boast.
However, this win is overshadowed mostly by his losses to Al Iaquinta where in their most recent bout we saw his usual solid start and then watched him slowly fade out of the fight as he tired and couldn’t implement his wrestling advantage like he would want to. Al Iaquinta is no easy fight by any means but you can’t help feel that Lee’s wresting advantage should allow him to have more success against a striker.
Lee’s other most recent loss was to top lightweight contender Tony Ferguson who has been running through the division in recent years and is in most people’s eyes the best bet to beat lightweight champion Khabib; Lee was causing Tony problems in that fight until he was submitted. I feel Lee will always be able to compete with the top 15 contenders at lightweight, but when it comes to beating the best in the division he will always fall short, for now anyway.
Maybe, it would be a good decision for Lee to follow in the footsteps of someone like Rory McDonald who left the UFC to gain success in other organisations. However, Sage Northcutt recently found out that a change in organisation doesn’t necessarily mean easier competition after getting knocked out in his One Championship debut.
Whether Lee stays at welterweight or goes back down to lightweight, it’s vital that he wins his next fight or it could have a big impact on the future of his career. If he does stay at welterweight it may be in his best interest to match up with a lower ranked fighter such as Danny Roberts or Max Griffin to get him back in the win column and help his confidence.