Kevin Lee is extremely confident that he’s going to avenge his 2014 loss to Al Iaquinta on Saturday night. But it also sounds like the lightweight contender isn’t underestimating “Ragin’ Al”, which, is a good sign if you’re a fan of ‘The Motown Phenom”.
The fighters are going to battle again in the headliner of UFC on FOX 31, which will go down in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When they fought for the first time, all the way back at UFC 169, Iaquinta won the fight via decision.
Well, if anyone dismissed Lee as a potential contender following that bout, they’ve been proven very wrong in the interim. Since that bout, which marked Lee’s Octagon debut, he’s gone 10-2 in the UFC. During that time the talented grappler has defeated the likes of Franciso Trinaldo, Michael Chiesa, and most recently, Lee mauled Edson Barboza.
Lee was a guest on the latest “MMA Hour” this week, and while discussing Iaquinta, he said this (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“I think it’s more he has just changed with time,” Lee said. “He’s gotten a little bit older. But I’ve had 12 fights since our fight, and he’s only had [seven], and he’s taken years off in there and he’s a real estate agent now. He’s going around, he’s worried about other things. He’s the one that’s doing something else. When we fought the first time, he had so much more experience over me. He had been through The Ultimate Fighter, he had already had three or four fights in the UFC, and now the tables have flipped a little bit. This is what I do full-time and I think that’s what’s really going to show through, is the evolution.
“He’s got some things that I’ve got to watch out for,” Lee continued. “Al’s a tough guy, I’m not going to take it away from him. I don’t really like him, but I’m going to respect his style and I’m going to respect his skills. He could show up and he’s never going to go away, and it’s going to make for a damn good fight, so I’ve made this training camp the hardest that it could possibly be because I know he’s going to give me a good fight.”
Now, what Lee says about their respective records is true. Iaquinta has only fought seven times since their first encounter, and he has spent time on the sidelines, due to contract disputes with the UFC and on account of his real estate career.
But, while Lee has talked about embarrassing Iaquinta, these comments seem to indicate he’s not looking past him either. After all, Iaquinta hits like a truck, has solid wrestling and he’s ridiculously tough. Case in point, two of his four losses are via technical submission, and he’s never been knocked out. This is a guy who went the distance with Khabib Nurmagomedov, who, let’s remember, just tapped out Conor McGregor.
So, although the betting lines have Lee as a pretty sizeable favorite in the -300 range, focusing on the task at hand, and not what might come next would be wise.