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Kevin Lee unafraid to show support for Bernie Sanders regardless of political blowback from fans or fighters

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UFC lightweight contender Kevin Lee doesn’t have the same concerns as NBA legend Michael Jordan when it comes to his political views.

Recently, Lee was invited by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to speak at a rally in Nevada and “The Motown Phenom” was eager to accept. The chance to speak on Sanders’ behalf came after Lee knocked out Gregor Gillespie in front of President Donald Trump at UFC 244 this past November and he followed it up with an Instagram post that said “Bernie Sanders you bastards.”

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Meanwhile, during the height of his popularity as arguably the greatest basketball player in history, Jordan was courted by a political candidate in North Carolina asking for his support during a volatile Senatorial race.

Jordan opted not to endorse the candidate because he was always ultra-concerned about his public image and as quoted in the 1995 book Second Coming, he stated “Republicans buy shoes, too.”

The idea was that Jordan was concerned with offending part of his potential fanbase by standing up for a political candidate they didn’t support but Lee definitely doesn’t share that same ideology when it comes to backing Sanders for president.

“I think the difference with us is fighting is the most real thing that you really get. I don’t give a f*ck about brand and selling shoes,” Lee told MMA Fighting. “I’m not trying to do none of that. With the fights, we really try to put ourselves out to the world. What I truly am. That part really doesn’t bother me. I don’t really care about how many shoes I’m going to sell.

“I’m trying to do the best fights possible and part of me as a person is the things that I believe in, the things I’m going to support. If I’m feeling Bernie, I’m going for it and I feel like that kind of goes through with the fights. You can really feel it. In a basketball game, it’s just a game. They are all playing a game.”

As much as Jordan shied away from the political spotlight, Lee isn’t the first fighter to show support for a candidate for president.

Former interim champion Colby Covington has essentially built his entire persona around President Trump and he eventually became close friends with his sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr.

Ronda Rousey famously showed support for Sanders in 2016, which led to Trump targeting her with a vitriolic message on Twitter after she was knocked out by Holly Holm. And just recently Bryce Mitchell shouted out Trump following his submission win while fighting in Washington, D.C. this past December.

For his part, Lee feels like it’s his responsibility to stand up for what he believes in even if that’s not particularly popular with some of his fellow fighters or a segment of the UFC fanbase.

In fact, Lee was honored that the Sanders’ campaign reached out to him to ask about appearing at the rally and he was more than happy to do his part.

“I was kind of surprised he asked me to speak for him. I tried to do my best to put on for the cause,” Lee said. “He’s a cool ass dude, he really is and he should definitely be the next president.”

While Lee has shown unwavering support for Sanders, he has definitely seen many of the UFC athletes touting Trump ahead of the 2020 election.

As much as some sports leagues try to avoid politics all together, it’s nearly impossible for the athletes on the UFC roster considering company president Dana White spoke on President Trump’s behalf at the 2016 Republican National Convention.

If Lee is the odd man out because he’s backing Sanders, that’s certainly not going to keep him quiet as the November election draws near.

“I think some of them kind of try to get into the good graces of the UFC. Okay, I’ll just believe what you’re going to believe maybe,” Lee said about fighters supporting Trump. “I feel like as fighters we are a little bit too selfish. We don’t really see the greater good, especially with something like a union.

“I don’t know if it will ever happen because it’s hard to get everybody on the same page. I do think it’s a little weird [so many support Trump].”

With a fight scheduled for March against Charles Oliveira in Brazil and plans to compete again in June, Lee will be busy in 2020 but he’ll still be showing up and helping out Sanders whenever he’s needed.

His hope is that by the end of the year he’ll be celebrating a run at the lightweight title while Sanders is preparing for his inauguration.

“It’s going to look a whole lot better when I’ve actually got the title wrapped around my waist and I can take the title to the White House,” Lee said. “If all falls in line, I’m going to have my own picture in the White House with the belt next to it and I ain’t going to have to call Dana to get it done either.”