UFC lightweight Kevin Lee hasn’t really needed any help in generating headlines as of late.
In November, after he submitted Magomed Mustafaev in Belfast, Lee cut a very heelish promo in which he antagonized the hometown fans and called out UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor.
The line, “I would put McGregor on his back right now in this arena and there isn’t a motherfucker in this arena that would stop me,” is the sort of thing that you might find written on a scrap of paper and discarded in the trash can at a WWE creative meeting. But we loved it anyhow and people took note.
More recently, Lee’s claim that he has been approached by representatives of Floyd Mayweather Jr. to help the former pound for pound number one pugilist to prepare for a proposed boxing showdown with McGregor has garnered plenty of attention.
However, Lee still feels as though he isn’t getting the coverage that he deserves from some in the MMA media.
On Monday, Lee joined Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour and you could tell from the very beginning of the interview that ‘The Motown Phenom’ was looking for a moment to jump in with something unrelated to the questions being asked. He didn’t really find that opening, rather he just decided to create one with all the subtlety of a bulldozer.
Helwani’s second question was about whether or not Lee feels his upcoming showdown with Michael Chiesa in the main event of UFC Fight Night 112 in Oklahoma City is a “coming out party” of sorts.
“I mean, I guess a little bit. I got to let you know though, I don’t really like…I don’t know, Ariel. Me and you got problems,” responded Lee bluntly. “How many times have I requested to be on your show? And you give airtime to these dudes who aren’t really fighters. So, I’ve got a bone to pick with you.”
“There’s been a couple of times I’ve tried to be on your show, I hit you up on Twitter or whatever and I got no response but y’all hit me up right away when I get a big fight. That shit just don’t rub me the right way.”
Lee went on to complain about the amount of airtime that the likes of novice pros Mickey Gall and CM Punk as well as UFC poster boy Sage Northcutt have been afforded on the weekly MMAFighting show in recent months. The 24-year-old Detroit native even suggested that none of those three men really deserve to be in the UFC in the first place.
Helwani said that one can’t deride the likes of Gall for grabbing as much attention as possible or for taking a shortcut to the big time, asking Lee, “Isn’t the name of the game to get people emotionally invested?”
“I’m not going to knock the hustle, but people are going to talk about what you put out,” said Lee in response. “So you make ten articles about Mickey Gall and you don’t make a single article about nobody else, then of course they are going to be buzzing about him, of course they are going to be talking about him. He ain’t doing it on his own.
“And I know that you tell other fighters to promote themselves and blah, blah, blah and you know, everybody should get on there and Conor McGregor it up, get on Twitter and talk a bunch of shit, but that won’t get you nowhere if you don’t get the airtime.”
After his last fight, in which he ended the seven-fight tear of Brazil’s Francisco Trinaldo and brought his own winning-streak to four, Lee called out Khabib Nurmagomedov, who had just been pulled from UFC 209 the previous week. Helwani suggested that this may have been an overly ambitious call out, but Lee said this was yet another example of a kind of favouritism within the media.
“It’s the same thing with this Khabib thing, everybody is saying that Khabib is the number one contender and I’m like how? He ain’t got no fights,” said Lee. “In the same span of him having three fights, I’ve had like ten. So, why is he the number one contender when the only person he has ever really beat that was even in the top five was Rafael Dos Anjos? And that was before Dos Anjos was even really winning fights.”
“He is just riding that coattail and the media is picking up on it and saying, ‘Hey, Khabib is the number one contender.’ But, at the same time, Khabib ain’t fought nobody.
“I mean he has got a huge following, he do. I mean the Russians are fucking crazy – they go crazy for him. So, I get that y’all want to stick with that because he’s got the following blah, blah, blah. But to promote him as the number one contender, that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about.
In turn, Helwani reminded his guest that it’s not the media’s job to promote, but rather to go where there are “interesting stories, and suggested that Lee’s gripe should perhaps be with the UFC, who haven’t featured him as prominently as they could have in the past.
Regardless, with his potential involvement in the Mayweather/McGregor story, his status as a headliner for an upcoming event, and this little rant, Lee is bound to become a more and more visible member of the UFC roster going forward.
The discussion made for intriguing viewing and you can watch the whole thing below…