After the drama that came with UFC 223's insane fight-week, we could have done with a smooth buildup to this weekend's crucial lightweight clash between Edson Barboza and Kevin Lee, but it has emerged in the last few minutes that this was not the case. Attempting to keep Barboza on the backfoot, Lee shoots for a takedown and gets it with a big slam. This time it's Edson Barboza and Kevin Lee.
Barboza opens round three with a couple of really nice body kicks.
Lee dominated Barboza with his wrestling game in the early rounds but Lee can't keep Barboza down in the third round as Barboza lands a spinning back kick that hobbled his Lee, however, Lee managed to survive the round. Lee connected with a series of shots to the right of Barboza's face with more brute force than in any bench-clearing baseball brawl. Lee scrambles back to his feet and takes down Barboza again. "That wheel kick hurt", Lee said about that frightening moment in the third round.
Lee took the fight to the mat and spent the first round landing punishing strikes and did more of the same in the second.
However, the main event at Atlanta on Saturday was always going to be about styles rather rankings - Barboza's stand-up game vs Lee's ground game. A close call from Barboza in the third round almost ended the fight, but Lee recovered and continued his deliverance of a brutal beating. Lee outstruck Barboza, one of the most feared strikers in MMA, by a factor of about 4-1 for the huge lightweight win. That forced the referee to pause the action as the doctors were brought in to check on Barboza. Lee was well ahead on the judges' scorecards as well before getting the fifth round finish. It's proceeding as a 157 pound catchweight fight.
"The folks know what time it is. It's Khabib time, baby", he said.
After the victory, the Lee called out newly crowned lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Another dominant round for Lee.