Kevin Lee, a dickhead, is scheduled to fight Tony Ferguson for the UFC’s interim lightweight title tomorrow. (The interim belt is only available because Conor McGregor is off looking at boats and pretending to be a boxer while Khabib Nurmagomedov can’t figure out his own physiology, which really says a lot about how stupid the stacked lightweight division has been lately.) Ferguson is a maestro of MMA’s dark arts, while Lee is a fantastic wrestler who doesn’t give a fuck. It should be a great matchup.
And of course, because this is MMA, it almost went off the rails and probably shouldn’t even be happening. Ferguson weighed in at 155 pounds, the lightweight limit, while Lee came in at the very end of the weigh-in and tipped the scales at 156. This happened one day after Lee made fun of Nurmagomedov’s struggles to cut weight and bragged that he wasn’t worried about cutting 19 pounds (11 percent of his bodyweight) in one day:
“I just enjoy tiramisu,” Lee said. “I ain’t no bitch. If you’re out there and tiramisu is the reason why you don’t go out there and make a lot of money and put your life on the line for these folks — and I ain’t got 4,000 Russians that are showing up for me, so that’s up to him (Nurmagomedov). He knows.”
That Lee was forced to cut 19 pounds and weigh in looking like a skeleton wearing a Kevin Lee costume is concerning.
That this breaks UFC precedent is even more bizarre. They’ve enforced weigh-in rules in the past; the reason why Lee got an extra bonus hour to emaciate himself further (seriously, did they just zap a pound of blood out of him or something?) wasn’t initially clear, and officials later clarified that the Nevada Athletic Commission had the ability to tack on an extra hour for fighters who were within a pound or two of the weight limit. It’s not hard to see why everyone involved has he incentive to push through this fight no matter what, especially since they can’t figure out how to market their best fighter, who’s fighting in the co-main event alongside Ferguson and Lee.
Other fighters in his division expressed their displeasure with Lee.
The problem of extreme weight cuts and the attendant health issues is not going to go away as long as the incentive structures that exist stay in place. If the UFC added more weight classes—the only reason they don’t is that it would lead to more titleholders, diluting the relative value of a championship even further than they’ve managed to do with bad matchmaking and overuse of interim titles like the one being contested for here—fighters wouldn’t be forced into as many unhealthy situations and have their kidneys shut down because of extreme cuts.
Anyway, congrats to the Tiramisu Liker for getting the UFC and NAC to allow him to hollow himself out further before going up against one of the most well-trained fighters in the UFC.