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Kevin Lee Focused On Own Career Right Now

UFC lightweight Kevin Lee has a key bout coming up with Michael Chiesa later this year.

However, Lee was approached by Floyd Mayweather and his team about helping him prepare for a bout with Conor McGregor.

Lee discussed that and more during a recent appearance on Submission Radio. Highlights are below:

How Kevin was picked to help Floyd Mayweather prepare for Conor McGregor

“I train at his gym a lot over with Dewey Cooper, but I go into his gym all the time, I know a lot of the guys on TMT. We just hang out, we good friends, or whatever. They approached me years ago about it – actually, before my fight with (Leonardo) Santos. They approached me and they (asked) if I ever would (help Floyd prepare for Conor). So that was the first time that got brought up. And then as these talks kind of got more heated, they started to give me timelines and then we would start going over specifics. But you know what, these past two months almost it’s been pretty dry. So I haven’t heard anything back. I hear just about as much rumours as the next person. So I’m not gonna sit around and wait for him. The fight was supposed to happen in June, which I would have been available to help him. But if they ain’t gonna fight until July, November, whenever they’re gonna fight, I don’t know, but If it interferes with my schedule, I’m putting them on the backburner. I’ll let them make their own cheese. The only reason I was gonna do it was cause the money was nice, you know, the money, everything that comes with it, the notoriety and everything. But I’m gonna create that for myself. So when they put the fight off, I was like, okay, I’m gonna take this fight with Chiesa. I’m not gonna sit around and wait, I’ll beat McGregor my damn self. I don’t need to help somebody else do it.”

Why Floyd would choose Kevin, an MMA fighter, to help him prepare for a boxing match

“Well, because he’s fighting an MMA fighter this time. And Floyd’s very smart. He understands the fight game. We just move different. We’re very different from what you see in a professional boxer. We do a lot of things, even some things that could be considered wrong in boxing when we’re straight boxing, but they’re right for MMA and they’re awkward. They’re strange punches, the clinch-work is obviously a lot different, our tie-ups are different. We’re just different. If you’re getting ready to fight a wrestler, you don’t bring out a great striker because he’s a better fighter, you bring out another wrestler, even if he’s not as good of a fighter as the striker. So they’re bringing me out because I’m the closest to being able to emulate his style.”

How seriously Mayweather would train for the McGregor fight

“I’ll say this, McGregor wouldn’t stand a chance. There’s no chance. He wouldn’t stand a chance. It would be a once in a lifetime punch. But even then, with the eight counts and everything, it ain’t gonna happen. It’s not gonna happen. Bigger gloves, he got an eight count, you know, smaller weight class. It just ain’t gonna happen.”

Conor/Floyd Prediction

I think Mayweather would stop him in the later rounds. He (McGregor) would be exhausted. He will be exhausted after a few rounds. It’s just that pace. That pace is different, it’s just a different sport. And people really don’t understand that because we also throw punches, but it’s just different. The ruleset is different. Literally, everything is different. MMA would be different if you just said you can’t kick anymore or you can’t throw knees. MMA in itself would be totally different. So it’s just a different sport, it’s just a different type of body type that goes into it, it’s a different type of way of preparing the body. It’s just different. And I can’t even really give a good prediction. I think he’s gonna knock him out in the later rounds, if I had to say. And I think that will just come with pure exhaustion. You’re taking a sprinter and you’re putting him in there in the long-distance race. Yeah, of course he’s gonna lose. Conor is the much better fighter overall and I think even Floyd would admit that. If we’re talking about pure martial arts fighting skill, I mean, Conor’s way… you can’t even hold a candle to it. But as far as an actual boxing match, I mean, you’re playing into his sport. It’s a cash grab. It’s a good cash grab, that’s what I’ll say.”

His thoughts on Al Iaquinta’s most recent comments about him on Twitter

“Me and Al have been going together – you know, I’ve been trying to get that one back since it happened. So me and Al have been going back and forth for years. We were supposed to fight when he was supposed to fight Melendez. Melendez pulled out. I was fighting James Moontasri on the same card, I offered to step up and fight him and all of a sudden his knee was blown out. I called Joe right away I’m like, “Joe, listen, they can go and I will have my knee, my ACL, surgically removed and we can both hobble in there and we can get it down”. Like, I tried my best to make the fight happen for years. Really, I kept going back and forth. But now all of a sudden I think he just started to realize that he’s dropped the ball on that and he’s going to try and make himself some money. So more power to him. I mean, I think he’s going about the wrong way, but hopefully he makes himself some money and he makes me some money in the process. He’s only going to take half when it comes down to fight night though.”

On if Kevin had official talks of fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov before he got Chiesa

“Yeah, I mean, I think they were trying to make the Khabib fight happen. I think the only downplay on that one was Khabib didn’t want to fight. That’s really the only answer to it. I mean, we’re still gonna try and make that fight happen for December after this one. But the UFC wanted it, I wanted it, my manager wanted it, his manager wanted it. The only person who didn’t want it was him. I mean, I get and my second choice in that could have been Gil, but actually, when they approached me with the Mike Chiesa fight, I thought it sounded better, smarter. Chiesa is ranked number seven in the world for a reason. So this will be a fight to push me even more so than the Gil fight. So without Khabib, you know, this one came as a close second.”

Why Kevin thinks Khabib didn’t want the fight

“He claimed it was Ramadan. But I’ve got a lot of Muslim friends, you know. I don’t know. Some of them fight during Ramadan. I mean, I guess the man only wants to sit there and he only wants to fight once a year and he wants to hold on to that oath for as long as he can. So, you know, more power to him. Just get the hell out the way if you’re going to do that.”

How he sees a fight against Khabib playing out

“Oh, it’s still gonna happen. That fight is one hundred percent gonna happen, in my mind. It’s whether it happens – you know, it could have happened in July. That would have been great. But if it happens in December, even next year, the fight is gonna happen. So I’m already gearing up and preparing myself for that fight. I’m obviously the better wrestler (laughs). People want to say that he’s – I’m the better wrestler, I’m more athletic, I’m faster. He really don’t stand a shot in the dark. So he’ll try and take me down, he’ll try and wrestle me, but that’s hard to do for five rounds. And I’ve got these thumpers once we get on the feet. I’m much faster, I’m much quicker, I can kick more. We’ll just see how the fight happens. But it’s definitely gonna happen, in my eyes.”

Kevin’s thoughts on what Khabib dropping out of UFC 209 did to Khabib’s standings and rankings in the division

“I thought that it should have dropped him in the rankings. I mean, you clearly have to put Tony Ferguson above him. The reason he’s still considered the number one contender is all politics. You know, he brings in a huge market, a lot of money. Much more than a guy like Tony, when Tony has fought and beat everyone that he’s beat and he’s done it more recently and more frequently. So I still don’t consider Khabib to be the number one contender, you know, just people do. I mean, the man can’t punch his way out of a paper bag. We’ve see him on his feet. He’s stiff. He’s stiff as a board and his shoulders are all locked up and he’s nervous out there. All he’s trying to do is just grab a hold of you. He don’t have the level of experience in my eyes that people give him. He might be 24-0 or whatever, but he’s only got a couple of fights in the UFC and not that many. You know, he’s only had one or two in these last couple of years. I’ve never gone a year without fighting. I’ve never gone a year without fighting more than once or more than twice, really. So I just don’t understand that and it just don’t get no respect from me. So that’s why I want to make the fight happen.”

Thoughts on the current lightweight division situation with Conor being the champ and not fighting, Rafael dos Anjos leaving and Nate Diaz refusing to fight

“So that leaves a giant hole for me to jump right through. Like I said, I think when I look at this year, I’m looking at it as far as Cody (Garbrandt). Cody’s the perfect example for it because he just did it recently. But you go back to guys like Jon Jones, you know, he made his big breakthrough in one year, where they go from unranked all the way to number one contender or a champ spot. So it’s gonna hold it up as far as McGregor’s gonna pussyfoot around and he’s trying to fight Mayweather, and I think that fight’s gonna happen, so he’s gonna be sitting out for a while, but I’m more on the Max Holloway kind of train with that. I’m not gonna chase the man. If he don’t wanna fight, like, it’s cool. Just leave it up to the big boys, we’ll get the job done. He can go off and kiss his baby and kiss his wife at night and have a jolly good time and leave this sport for the real killers. So if he wants to go do something else, it’s whatever. My goal right now, I’ve got a short-term goal and that’s to be the number-one contender. So regardless of who the champ is, I’ll be known as number-one contender.”

How it feels to be headlining a card over such stars as John Hendricks, BJ Penn and Lil Nog

“It shows that the UFC knows what they’re doing. I think they’re taking me on the same path as like they took Cody (Garbrandt) last year where he went from an unranked contender all the way to a number one guy. So I’m looking to follow that blueprint. The UFC knows what they’re doing. They’re putting me ahead of these guys cause I think I’ll be the future of that division and they know it and they’re gonna put forth the promotion into it instead of a guy like… I remember when I made my first UFC win, BJ Penn was headlining the card. So it’s a big honour to be on the same card with him and a little bit above him.”

If Kevin Lee is happy with the way the UFC promoted him thus far in his run

“That has been a big…. I have gotten a lot people asking me about that, especially since Tyron came out and was insinuating that the UFC’s racist. And bottom line, the UFC is not (racist). The UFC is only about the money. You know what I mean? So I understand where they’re coming from, where they’ve been. If you don’t bring in that money, if you don’t bring in that market that they’re looking for, of course they’re not gonna push you. I think they’re just now starting to realize that I can bring in that secondary market and start to really push me on top of giving me – you know, because I feel like I really had to go through, like you mentioned, I had the two losses. I really had to go through those in order to be at the level that I’m at and to the level that I’m going to get to, to be a championship fighter. And they’re kind of letting me do that without too much of a, you know, the UFC, every time I’ve asked for something personally, I’ve gotten it. So like, I can’t really be too upset at it. Of course I don’t get as much of a push as the next guy, but I can kind of understand it just because of the market that I market to. They just don’t see the money in it as of right now.”

How the UFC came to the conclusion to put Kevin as a headliner on the card and to start pushing him in general

“I think they more so came into their own realization. I mean, I’ve gotten into a lot of… you know, I just don’t bite my tongue on a lot of stuff. So when they call me, I talk to them like I talk to anybody else. You know, me and Joe (Silva) have gotten into some real kind of squabbles behind the scenes.”

On his strengths over Michael Chiesa

“He’s great from the back. If you give up your back to him it’s pretty much good night. He’s great from the back, he’s great from top position, he’s great in the clinch. He does a lot of stuff great, but I do them just as good if not better, you know, on top of being a much better striker, much more polished, my kicks are way more devastating, I’m much faster, I’m much stronger, I’m much younger, I’ve got more confidence than the man. I’ll take his heart from him. So we’ll see how the fight goes. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all in a row for me, so I’m just knocking them down and out the park now.”

Prediction on how he beats Chiesa

“I’m gonna drown him. He’s gonna drown. He’s gonna get in there, he’s gonna move around with me for a few minutes, he’s gonna realize that everything that he does I’m gonna shut down, and he’s just gonna realize how much faster and stronger and more technical I am. So he’s gonna try that “country boy will survive” kind of push through. He’s gonna try till his last legs. But I might just change his life, because hard work and dedication will only take you so far when the man that’s better than you also puts in more hard work and more dedication to this. So I think I’ll change the man’s life.”

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