UFC at Oklahoma came and went during a rough weekend for the UFC, given the Belabor 180 PPV a night prior, but ultimately Kevin Lee still managed to shine bright. Lee’s win was filled with controversy given the fact that Michael Chiesa did not physically or verbally tap to the rear naked choke, but he was being outclassed by the “Motown Phenom” and most would agree that it was only a matter of time until he was going out.
Chiesa’s argument is valid and referee Mario Yamasaki is to blame for the botched ending to Lee’s biggest UFC win to date, but there are several factors that Lee brought up, which offers an interesting take on the fight overall.
Chiesa was fortunate enough to secure top position early in round 1 and even showed some nice range in his striking, but Lee still gained the upper hand and did manage to get Chiesa’s back fairly quickly. Lee would then secure the rear naked choke under Chiesa’s chin soon after following some damaging punches while having a body lock on the higher ranked “Maverick.”
Chiesa’s boasts about being a high level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt were solved by Lee’s ground game and even though there wasn’t much time left in the round, Chiesa still failed to protect his neck and hold on until the next round. What’s worse is the fact that Chiesa did let his hands go in an awkward manner, which made it appear that his arm went limp, but why stop attempting to use your hands if you feel you are still in the fight?
Lee, ever the showman did not let the controversy outshine his victory, instead he set himself up for a clash with three potential future opponents. The first obviously being Khabib Nurmagomedov who he’s been calling out for some time amidst a lack of reaction from “The Eage.” The second being Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson who he engaged in some back-and-forth verbal jousting during the UFC post fight show. Ferguson’s dismissal of Lee’s resume was expected, but it wouldn’t deter Lee from firing back with his own insults on Ferguson’s lack of knowledge in the comments made while behind the desk. Regardless on who you thought won the verbal battle, the stage is officially set for a future fight between the two to settle their issues and it could make for a nice pay day as well as an exciting fight for fans.
With the UFC leaning towards setting up Nurmagomedov and Ferguson for the hundredth time in the Fall, Lee turned his attention to Edson Barboza who last time out knocked out Beneil Dariush via flying knee this past March.
Barboza is still left without a dancing partner and if Lee’s knee is healthy enough and if Barboza is willing to wait until December, we have ourselves a fight.
Lee’s rise up the rankings might not go as smoothly as his fight against Chiesa, but it’s certainly one that many will be willing to watch. The UFC found themselves a new young rising star who is unafraid of a live mic and unafraid of taking a step up in competition. Lee’s activity is noticeable as he’s managed to pull off five wins in the span of 14 months, four of which were submission victories.
Wearing the black hat in MMA has long been hazardous given the nature of defeat and the backlash that follows, but Lee doesn’t appear to be affected by the risk. In fact he has fully embraced the hate he receives, but should he headline a fight card in Detroit, he’d receive an equivalent level of support.