UnderGround Forums Explaining Kevin Lee

5/25/19 11:51 PM
4/17/17
Posts: 2530
VoodooChicken - 

If they had a 165 it would be perfect for him


He would be losing to the same fighters. Would he and RDA at 165 be any different than at 170
5/26/19 12:10 AM
11/1/03
Posts: 19226
SpartaKick -

Kevin Lee reminds me of Eryk Anders.. They are gatekeepers at best - you can just tell they on the opposite end of the sprectrum. I guess you could say leaning more to the beta side rather than the alpha side.

I think he's better than that. He loses but it's to very good fighters. Plus he comes close to finishing top guys but his cardio does him in. If he could make weight he was better at 155. RDA is not a big 170 i thought Lee would win, but RDA used his toughness and skill to drag Lee in the deep water and won a great fight.

5/26/19 9:57 PM
12/19/10
Posts: 3095
jpm995 -
SpartaKick -

Kevin Lee reminds me of Eryk Anders.. They are gatekeepers at best - you can just tell they on the opposite end of the sprectrum. I guess you could say leaning more to the beta side rather than the alpha side.

I think he's better than that. He loses but it's to very good fighters. Plus he comes close to finishing top guys but his cardio does him in. If he could make weight he was better at 155. RDA is not a big 170 i thought Lee would win, but RDA used his toughness and skill to drag Lee in the deep water and won a great fight.

Maybe he's slightly better than Eryk but that's just it though - he doesn't have that same toughness to face adversity and shine in those situations. That's what makes a good fighter a great fighter and puts them in that top echelon in my opinion. His cardio is fine but he relies very heavily on skill and when he realises that it's not going to be enough to break his opponent, he starts to wilt and break down himself.

5/26/19 11:05 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 58838
wiggum - How do we explain Kevin Lee's career at this point?

Let's start with two premises: First, he is clearly a good fighter. He destroyed Edson Barbosa. At this point in Edson's career, that's enough to be considered very good. Second, he is not the championship level that some of us thought he was or could be.

What gives?

Some of my thoughts:

First, I personally read too much into his first round with Tony Ferguson. He destroyed him in that round while Tony was on his greatest tear. I overestimated the effect of the staph infection and thought he was one good camp from beating Tony. His grappling was so slick that I figured it would be enough to get him to or near a title. I didn't consider that Landon Vanatta also smacked around TFerg for a round.

Second, I assumed he was a good striker when that was without merit. For some reason, I figured he would take to striking quickly and it just never materialized.

Third, Lee is clearly a smart, thoughtful guy. But, like another smart, hardworking fighter--Chael Sonnen--he lacks the top level mental toughness to win a title. I'm not saying he is 'mentally weak.' Clearly, he has achieved things in his life that belie this. But, he is not Tony Ferguson or Max Holloway tough.

Other thoughts?

1) The one take away I still have from him is that while his wrestling may not be the force it was at LW, his ability to shoot, get td then pass or get to a sub threatening postion (taking the back) is one of the best in the sport. While he may not have finished Ferguson, Raging Al and RDS, to take those guys down and get to RNC attempts/mount so quickly is absolutely impressive.

There are few guys in MMA with that level of td and positional abilities.

2) His striking looked ok vs RDA early on. But yes, its not where it should be to be at the elite level considering his athleticism, power and also his crazy reach. I think its like 75/76" or something like that which is insane for a 5'9/10" guy. His striking limitations def showed against Raging Al. He did have some decent punches as well as kicks vs RDA here and there but not overall enough.

3) Might be similar to Chael in that he just may not have that extra mental level to push him past front runner status and to champsionship status. But he is a better striker and submission guy than Chael, he has more tools to be better.
5/26/19 11:09 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 58839
One other thing:

A fighter vs RDA as a debut at WW may not have been the best for Lee even though RDA was coming off 2 straight losses to wrestlers at WW. The thing is...……..RDA had had around 2 years and 5 fights to settle into a WW frame. RDA fought Tarec Saffedine in his WW debut and didn't exactly set the roof on fire with that one either even though he won.

I do agree with the other that said his size/power at LW is significantly less at WW. However, he could still grow into a WW frame more over the next few years.

The cardio and mental issues are something else though....
5/26/19 11:13 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 58840
RE: styles making matchups, he may in fact, have been a worse matchup for Connor than Khabib as Lee has stronger doubles in open space and as noted, has that unparrelled ability to move to a sub-threating position as soon as it hit the floor. If he can mount Ferguson and get all over RDAs back while having top level blast doubles, that presents all sorts of trouble for a guy like Connor.

It would have still made for an interesting matchup with Khabib although Khabib likely survives any bad spots on the ground and def comes on stronger in the later rounds as has been much discussed.
5/26/19 11:16 PM
1/1/01
Posts: 58841
Now that Volkanovski has beaten Aldo, it also shows the lack of Lee's generalship standing over the course of 3 rounds where Volk showed all sorts of diff looks and feints and probes and a higher fight IQ. Lee is clearly the better pure wrestler and submission grappler but lacks the generalship or more comprehensive game that another strong wrestle/striker like Volk has.
5/26/19 11:30 PM
12/9/09
Posts: 619
willis007 -

He definitely has all the physical attributes to be successful but I think he's missing some of the mental attributes. I don't think it's toughness. He seems tough enough. I think it's focus. He seems to mentally deteriorate during the fight. Like he has too much ego and when things get diverse, he doesn't adjust. Especially when he gets shut down on the ground.

He lacks cardio. That is a pretty important physical attribute

5/27/19 10:28 AM
2/17/03
Posts: 12715
Great posts, wasa.

Some more thoughts:

(1) He does not lack cardio. He lacks heart. He and RDA were in comparable places in the last round of that fight. But, when he hit adversity, he completely folded and RDA showed why he was a world champion.

(2) In hindsight, the right strategy for Conor would have been similar to the Mendes fight. Work the body and stall in full guard when taken down. Lee's best work comes off transitions and stalling from guard limits transitions.
5/27/19 10:29 AM
2/17/03
Posts: 12716
Lee is like Rumble Johnson in one regard. He can fight 3-5 rounds without any cardio problems when he is winning. (See: Barbosa). He just folds under adversity.
5/27/19 1:18 PM
9/7/17
Posts: 523
willis007 - 

He definitely has all the physical attributes to be successful but I think he's missing some of the mental attributes. I don't think it's toughness. He seems tough enough. I think it's focus. He seems to mentally deteriorate during the fight. Like he has too much ego and when things get diverse, he doesn't adjust. Especially when he gets shut down on the ground.


I think you're onto something. Charles Oliveira had a stretch like this where he seemed to sort of deteriorate mentally if he had a tight submission that didn't finish. I don't want to use the phrase gave up, but it did seem like there was a small break in the confidence after that. Oliveira seems to have fixed the issue and is looking better than ever.

I see a similar thing with Lee. I think some of it may happen if he's especially gassed? In the Ferguson fight and this RDA fight he seemed like he was ready to tap as soon as those subs were applied. It's easy for me to say because I'm not in there fighting half naked in a cage. So I'm not talking shit. Lee is a beast.

I think he should either switch training camps or possibly work with a sports psychologist. As others have said he has the physical gifts and the skill set to be championship material and I do think we will rally and end up fighting for the title at some point within the next 2 years.
5/27/19 2:00 PM
2/17/03
Posts: 12718
^^To me, focus is an aspect of toughness. So, I don't disagree at all.
5/28/19 9:29 AM
6/2/04
Posts: 9171
He's a really good fighter who is losing to guys who are better than him, I'm not sure why it needs to be more complicated than that. It seems like any time a really good fighter loses, people jump right to "what's wrong with..." or "what does he need to change..." and one guy loses every time, and not everyone gets to be a world champion.

Chad Mendes was an excellent fighter, but never won a world title. That doesn't mean he had a shitty career. Kevin probably won't win a world title either, because winning a world title is extremely hard, and there are some killers in both weight classes he can make.
5/28/19 9:47 AM
2/17/03
Posts: 12721
Rickmassmma - He's a really good fighter who is losing to guys who are better than him, I'm not sure why it needs to be more complicated than that. It seems like any time a really good fighter loses, people jump right to "what's wrong with..." or "what does he need to change..." and one guy loses every time, and not everyone gets to be a world champion.

Chad Mendes was an excellent fighter, but never won a world title. That doesn't mean he had a shitty career. Kevin probably won't win a world title either, because winning a world title is extremely hard, and there are some killers in both weight classes he can make.

I disagree with this and I think the Mendes example is a perfect counter.

Nobody watched Mendes v. Aldo II and thought something was wrong with Chad. He was performing at an extremely high level mentally and physically. Lee, by contrast, has moments of greatness and then folds. He destroyed Tony in the first round and couldn't get it together after that. He completely folded in the RDA fight. Stopped fighting and then was finished.

He's definitely good. But, also, not living up to his potential.
5/28/19 10:01 AM
4/8/13
Posts: 2428

Fans are stuck in the old way of thinking about fighters' records. When UFC had one show every few months, a loss really did mean a serious hit to a guy's career, even an indication that his days at the top were over. Now, with UFC having guys start younger and fight more often, a loss means much less. Lee could lose his next few and in a few years time be champ. He's got the skills, and the more forgiving nature of the sport allows for that now.

5/28/19 1:22 PM
4/20/08
Posts: 21855
Rickmassmma - He's a really good fighter who is losing to guys who are better than him, I'm not sure why it needs to be more complicated than that. It seems like any time a really good fighter loses, people jump right to "what's wrong with..." or "what does he need to change..." and one guy loses every time, and not everyone gets to be a world champion.

Chad Mendes was an excellent fighter, but never won a world title. That doesn't mean he had a shitty career. Kevin probably won't win a world title either, because winning a world title is extremely hard, and there are some killers in both weight classes he can make.

I agree. People are quick to make up imaginary weight classes etc, but the truth is it isn't the "everybody gets to be champ" business. There have been exponentially more non champion fighters than actual champions, and it's always going to be that way. 

I hate the "future champ" type threads too

5/28/19 2:20 PM
6/2/04
Posts: 9172
wiggum - 
Rickmassmma - He's a really good fighter who is losing to guys who are better than him, I'm not sure why it needs to be more complicated than that. It seems like any time a really good fighter loses, people jump right to "what's wrong with..." or "what does he need to change..." and one guy loses every time, and not everyone gets to be a world champion.

Chad Mendes was an excellent fighter, but never won a world title. That doesn't mean he had a shitty career. Kevin probably won't win a world title either, because winning a world title is extremely hard, and there are some killers in both weight classes he can make.

I disagree with this and I think the Mendes example is a perfect counter.

Nobody watched Mendes v. Aldo II and thought something was wrong with Chad. He was performing at an extremely high level mentally and physically. Lee, by contrast, has moments of greatness and then folds. He destroyed Tony in the first round and couldn't get it together after that. He completely folded in the RDA fight. Stopped fighting and then was finished.

He's definitely good. But, also, not living up to his potential.

The Ferguson fight was more about Tony than it was Kevin, man. It was vintage Ferguson. He always does dumb shit early and gets hurt, or gives up shitty positions, only to wear the guy down and either stop him, or win a clear decision by sweeping the late rounds. Lando Vannata almost had him out of there, Pettis had him badly hurt...Tony taking a little damage and getting mounted by Lee was more about Ferguson than it was Lee in my opinion.

As for the RDA fight, I think people forget that RDA is a motherfucker. That betting line amazed me. He fucking beat Robbie before losing to Colby and Usman. Why anyone thought Lee, coming off a loss to Iaquinta would beat RDA amazes me.

When you say he's not living up to his potential...you're holding him to a pretty lofty standard, dude. Ferguson and RDA are better than him, and those aren't fights he's supposed to win.
5/28/19 2:30 PM
2/17/03
Posts: 12723
Rickmassmma - 
wiggum - 
Rickmassmma - He's a really good fighter who is losing to guys who are better than him, I'm not sure why it needs to be more complicated than that. It seems like any time a really good fighter loses, people jump right to "what's wrong with..." or "what does he need to change..." and one guy loses every time, and not everyone gets to be a world champion.

Chad Mendes was an excellent fighter, but never won a world title. That doesn't mean he had a shitty career. Kevin probably won't win a world title either, because winning a world title is extremely hard, and there are some killers in both weight classes he can make.

I disagree with this and I think the Mendes example is a perfect counter.

Nobody watched Mendes v. Aldo II and thought something was wrong with Chad. He was performing at an extremely high level mentally and physically. Lee, by contrast, has moments of greatness and then folds. He destroyed Tony in the first round and couldn't get it together after that. He completely folded in the RDA fight. Stopped fighting and then was finished.

He's definitely good. But, also, not living up to his potential.

The Ferguson fight was more about Tony than it was Kevin, man. It was vintage Ferguson. He always does dumb shit early and gets hurt, or gives up shitty positions, only to wear the guy down and either stop him, or win a clear decision by sweeping the late rounds. Lando Vannata almost had him out of there, Pettis had him badly hurt...Tony taking a little damage and getting mounted by Lee was more about Ferguson than it was Lee in my opinion.

As for the RDA fight, I think people forget that RDA is a motherfucker. That betting line amazed me. He fucking beat Robbie before losing to Colby and Usman. Why anyone thought Lee, coming off a loss to Iaquinta would beat RDA amazes me.

When you say he's not living up to his potential...you're holding him to a pretty lofty standard, dude. Ferguson and RDA are better than him, and those aren't fights he's supposed to win.

I don't think we disagree on the points, but just the significance of each point.

You're dead right about Ferguson. But, Lee definitely broke in that fight. And he broke in the RDA fights. It's not just talent. It's toughness. RDA and Tony have world champion mindsets. Lee does not.

Potential is a loaded term. In terms of physical skill and technique, I think Lee is near the top. But, he doesn't have the mentality of the world champions.