Former UFC lightweight title challenger Kevin Lee will return to action later tonight (Sat., Aug. 28, 2021) when he takes on welterweight striker Daniel Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 35 live on ESPN/ESPN+ from inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Lee, who was last seen getting choked out by Charles Oliveira in Mar. 2020 (see it HERE), will be making his first appearance at 170 pounds since a submission loss to Rafael dos Anjos back in May 2019. That is a long time to be away from the division, but “Motown Phenom” did score a blistering head kick knockout over Gregor Gillespie in his recent return to lightweight so the switch wasn’t all for nothing.
At just 28 years of age Lee is hoping to finally turn the page and become an active member of the UFC roster. Recent knee injuries have forced him to sit on the sidelines for quite some time. This weekend will be a coming-out party of sorts and one that could land Lee right back in the mix in a crowded welterweight division.
“There’s been a growing process, for sure,” Lee told reporters earlier this week (h/t MMA Junkie). “There’s one thing in just kind of sitting out and not taking (fights) a couple of times, but there’s another in not being able to do it. So, going through my knee surgeries and barely even being able to walk, and run, and jump, it took a while for me to really get that itch again and really be able to scratch it.”
Lee, who is just 2-3 in his last five trips to the Octagon, was originally expected to fight undefeated welterweight contender Sean Brady at UFC 264 but “Motown Phenom” was forced to withdraw due to injury. The bout was rescheduled for this weekend before Brady had to bow out and was replaced by Rodriguez.
While “D-Rod” isn’t the biggest name at 170 pounds he’s an ultra-tough fighter with some of the best boxing in the division. It will be a good test for Lee in his first UFC action in 17 months.
“He’s solid,” Lee said. “He’s a good Mexican southpaw boxer, and that style has given me trouble in the past, so it’s gonna answer a lot of questions for me.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 35 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.