Kevin Lee has been very vocal in his attempt to convince the UFC to create 165-pound and 175-pound weight classes, extinguishing the welterweight division the way it is today.
Even though UFC Rochester opponent Rafael dos Anjos approves the idea, Lee can’t count on him in his pre-fight offer.
Speaking with the media in April, Lee suggested that both fighters, who moved up to welterweight after long careers as lightweights, come in at 165 pounds at the official UFC Rochester weigh-ins on Friday to make a statement.
“I saw that, man, but there’s no deal with the enemy on fight week,” dos Anjos told MMA Fighting on Wednesday. “It’s war now. There’s no deal. I’ll make the weight I signed to make, 171 with the extra pound. If he wants to make 165 to show he can do it, it’s up to him. I think it would be great to have this division, but I trained for 170 pounds and that’s what I’m going to do.
“Am I going to make deals with the enemy? No way. It’s war now. You make deals later, become friends later. Right now, he’s the man standing in front of me, he’s the man trying to take my dreams, and he won’t succeed.”
The former UFC lightweight champion had a seven-week camp for UFC Rochester, a shorter camp compared to his previous ones, and feels better both mentally and physically ahead of Saturday’s fight.
Dos Anjos left the lightweight division following losses to Eddie Alvarez and Tony Ferguson and won three straight over Tarec Saffiedine, Neil Magny and Robbie Lawler as a welterweight before losing decisions to Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman.
As Lee makes his 170-pound debut, RDA expects him to feel the different inside the Octagon.
“I make 170 now and question why could I make 155 before,” dos Anjos said. “My body changed over the years. I had my moment at lightweight, and I don’t think the weight class changes the outcome of this fight. It’s healthier for both of us now, but I’m already adapted to 170. He will feel the difference, it takes a while. It’s not something that happens overnight.
“People say you’re no longer cutting 15 pounds, but that’s 15 pounds more he will have to carry. I remember when I fought Tarec Saffiedine in Singapore and got tired after three rounds. I thought I wouldn’t get tired because I didn’t cut much weight, but it was quite the opposite. I took some time for me to make the adjustments, and now it’s 100 percent.”
Ready to get back in action for the first time since losing to future UFC champion Usman in November, dos Anjos says that Lee wasn’t the first name the company offered for his next bout.
“We were trying other options,” dos Anjos said. “We tried (Santiago) Ponzinibbio, we tried (Jorge) Masvidal. I don’t care too much about rankings anymore. I want fights that make sense.
”Even Nick Diaz’s name was brought up. (UFC matchmaker) Sean Shelby told me he was interested, but then he said that Nick was out. And then he said Kevin was moving up, asked me if I was interested. There was no other option. I have a baby at home, a fighter has to fight, has to stay busy.”
Matched up against a durable contender, dos Anjos expects to have an advantage in a five-round main event, foreseeing a stoppage win in Rochester.
“I see myself putting pressure, imposing my game there,” dos Anjos said. “I know he will come strong and explosive early on, but I see many possibilities. I see myself knocking him out, submitting him. I don’t think it goes to the fifth round. I’m well-trained. I’ll dictate the rhythm and not let it go the distance.”