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Nevada commission: Kevin Lee was ‘medically fit to fight’ at UFC 216

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The Nevada Athletic Commission stands by its decision, based on doctors’ input, to allow Kevin Lee to fight at UFC 216.

NAC executive director Bob Bennett told MMA Fighting on Sunday that Lee was cleared to fight Tony Ferguson in the main event Saturday night in Las Vegas from a health and safety standpoint by two commission doctors.

“My lead ringside physician found Lee medically fit to fight,” Bennett said. “He was examined by our lead ringside physician, along with another ringside physician. Both felt he was medically fit to fight.”

Lee, 25, had a very difficult weight cut, compounded by a staph infection he said he was battling all week leading into the event. The staph was visible on Lee’s chest while he was in the Octagon. The Las Vegas resident said he tried to keep the issue from the commission all week out of fear the fight would be pulled.

“I tried my best to hide it,” Lee said. “You know, it’s a big event, a lot has been happening with the UFC, these last couple events and I wasn’t going to let nobody down. I worked my whole life for this, it was like a culmination of things. But I’m not going to let this stop me.”

Bennett said he could not comment specifically on Lee’s medical condition, due to privacy laws. But he stands by his doctors and their decision to allow Lee to fight.

NAC doctors also allowed Lee an extra hour to make championship weight Friday for the interim lightweight title fight against Ferguson. On his first attempt, Lee was one pound over — 156 pounds — for a title fight. Per NAC rule, an athlete can get an extra hour for a second attempt if he or she is within two pounds of the target weight, if doctors clear it.

Lee was deemed able to continue his weight cut and he came in an hour later at 154.5 pounds to make the interim lightweight title bout official.

On Saturday night, Lee ended up falling to Ferguson by submission in the third round. Lee credited Ferguson for being the better man that day, but admitted to running out of gas due to the weight cut and infection.

“It was what it was,” Lee said. “I was going to make the weight, even if I had to cut my foot off or something. I said it before, it damn near killed me and I had to do what I had to do. I had a job to do, I’m a professional and I’m going to come out here no matter how bad it hurts. I’m going to come out here and I feel like I put my best performance on tonight, but by the third round it was too much for me.”