Kevin Lee is fighting for more than just a paycheck on Sunday night.
The 24-year-old fighter is set to compete in the headlining slot of UFC Fight Night 112 against The Ultimate Fighter 15 winner Michael Chiesa, who currently sits at No. 8 in the UFC lightweight rankings. The winner of the 155-pound contest could very well position himself as a top contender in the division.
Fighting in the main event of UFC card for the first time and doing it against a top-10 opponent, there’s no doubt this is the biggest fight of Lee’s young MMA career. Yet, the Detroit native is fighting for more than just a ranking. “The Motown Phenom” hopes to become an example for kids who might be walking down the wrong path, much like his younger brother.
“He’s 16, so he’s just doing stupid sh*t, you know what I mean?” Lee told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “He’s in jail for grand theft auto, it was stupid. The boys that he was with, they got a lot more time. I was able to buy him a good lawyer and he’s locked up, but he ain’t in prison, you know what I mean? He’s only been there for a year; actually it’ll be 10 months. He was supposed to get out on good behavior, but they gave him a year, that’s why they pushed back (the release date) because apparently the motherf*cker ain’t behaving himself.”
Lee’s brother was supposed to get released from jail this Friday just in time to watch Lee’s pivotal bout with Chiesa in Oklahoma City. But unfortunately, it seems like that won’t be happening.
“It was going to make sense,” Lee said. “But either way, he couldn’t travel and go to the fight, but he would’ve at least been able to see it with my mom and dad. Either way, he’s going to hear about it afterwards, or he’s going to hear about it one way or another. As soon as I get back, I’m going to go and see him and tell him how it went. So it is what it is, it’s no fault of mine.”
Lee, who’s currently riding a four-fight win streak and is considered a top prospect in the lightweight division, is not shy to express his desire to fight for UFC gold in the near future. Lee hopes his ambition and success in his fighting career can inspire kids struggling with difficult circumstances and help them stay out of trouble.
“Like I said, this is what I’m doing it for,” Lee explained. “That’s why I wear the $3,000 glasses, to show them kids that you can do the right things and you can be a champion at 25 and not locked up doing some other shit at 25.
“It’s not like I’m just doing it for him [Lee’s brother], I’m doing it for all these kids and it’s not even kids just in Detroit; it’s kids in Philly, Atlanta, all these places. Kids just don’t have direction, they see someone wearing buffs [the $3,000 glasses] — at least in Detroit that’s how it is — and they think, ‘that must be the dope man, so I got to do that. I got to do the wrong things to get the right things.’ So all these kids just need some direction.”