Kevin Lee entered UFC on Fox 31 as a sizable favorite to avenge a previous loss to Al Iaquinta. He left Saturday’s headliner at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee a little bit confused regarding the judges’ verdict and contemplating his future at 155 pounds.
Lee dropped a close five-round verdict to Iaquinta in their lightweight battle, as he was consistently outstruck on the feet and was unable to capitalize on taking his opponent’s back in both the second and third frames. Still, “The Motown Phenom” believes he won three rounds, even with strong finish from Iaquinta down the stretch.
“I thought for sure [I won] the first three rounds,” Lee said in a post-fight media scrum (video via MMAjunkie.com). “I don’t know what the judges were seeing the first round. I don’t know if they were giving him points for attempted takedowns that weren’t even….I honestly don’t know. I have to rewatch the fight in order to see, but he didn’t hit me with anything in the first three rounds.
“He had a good shot in the beginning of the fourth so I knew he won that fourth round. It was close going into the fifth but I still thought I pulled it out. I’m not a judge, it’s not my job. I felt I could’ve got that nod.”
UFC president Dana White, however, thought it was a clear victory for Iaquinta. The Serra-Longo Fight Team product was coming off a loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in a five-round title bout at UFC 223.
“I had it 2-2 going into the fifth round and there’s no doubt Iaquinta won the last round,” White said on Fox Sports 1. “Kevin Lee starts to gas. Iaquinta took the other fight with Khabib on short notice — the day of the weigh-ins — went five hard rounds with the champ. He’s [Lee] gotta go home and watch the fight again. That was 3-2 all day.”
The loss was a difficult pill to swallow for Lee, who at 26 years old just seemed to be hitting his stride in the division following a dominant victory against Edson Barboza this past April.
“Devastated, embarrassed,” Lee said of the defeat. “This sport sometimes has the lowest of lows, and it really don’t feel lower than now, but I’ll be all right. I might not get another shot at Al, but I’ve fought a lot of great fighters in my career, and he’s definitely up there amongst them. We’ll see once everything gets settled down.”
Although he made weight at UFC on Fox 31, Lee has struggled on the scales in the past. Saturday’s defeat has him contemplating a moving up to welterweight down the road.
“It might be time for me to make that change,” Lee said. “I knew it about a year ago, but I’m a real stubborn son of a bitch, so I’m just going to try to make as many adjustments as I can and make it as clean as I can, but it still is very rough for me to get down to this weight. Maybe now it’s time to just go up and look at other options.
“I think I can compete very, very well at 170 and be fast in and out of the pocket, too. I don’t know. We’ll see as I kind of get healed up and everything.”