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Kevin Lee says he'll 'mentally break' Chiesa: 'He don't want to get beat up in front of his mama'

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LAS VEGAS – Kevin Lee is not really expecting to finish Michael Chiesa on Sunday.

But that by no means indicates any lack of confidence on Lee’s (15-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) end. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The way the lightweight sees it, the longer their UFC Fight Night 112 headliner goes, the rougher things will get for Chiesa (14-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC).

“He’s tough,” Lee said during a media scrum at UFC headquarters in Las Vegas on Monday. “He’s going to stay in there for 25 minutes. I think that’s going to play even more into my game. It’s going to let me really showcase my skills. I think I’m built for five rounds.

“When you get into those championship rounds, skill sets everything apart. It’s no longer how fast, how strong you are, because you’re both tired. It’s going to be the skill, and the skills are going to shine.”

Lee’s breakdown of the FS1-televised scrap, which takes place at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla., comes down to one premise: “Everything that the man do, I do better.” And he thinks that it’s Chiesa’s awareness of that very fact that allowed Lee to get into his head.

“I think he understands that I’m just a better fighter,” Lee said. “When it boils down to skill vs. skill, I’m younger, faster, more experienced, stronger. I’ve got all the balls in my court, baby. I think he understands that, and that’s why he gets frustrated. And he’ll get frustrated. After two minutes of the first round, he’ll understand.

“Mentally, he’ll break. He’s going to stay in there for the long run. He’ll go into a defensive shell. He don’t want to get beat up in front of his mama. So he’s going to go into a defensive shell and try not to get knocked out. But he’s going to be in for a long night, baby.”

While Lee’s self-confident promotion style is certainly nothing new, his recent record helps back it up. After an upset loss to Leonardo Santos in 2015, the second defeat in Lee’s career, he’s gone on to beat his following four opponents. Only one of them made it past the second round. He is an honorable mention in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings.

Set to end a more than year-long layoff, No. 9-ranked Chiesa brings in similar numbers. Since a 2014 loss to Joe Lauzon, also the second setback of his entire professional run, he’s been on a three-fight streak. Of those, two were finishes – including a submission over lightweight standout Beneil Dariush.

Lee and Chiesa even carry near-identical pro records, with Lee edging out Chiesa by a single fight. But, as far as Lee’s concerned, the cage is where their similarities end.

“We’re polar opposites in every way,” Lee said. “He’s a country boy from the middle of the railwoods. He drives an old pickup truck. I’m out here in Las Vegas driving a Benz and wearing a couple of grand on me. We clash in every way, shape and style. The man’s still rocking a mullet, for God’s sakes.

“So I’m just trying to get the people – one of us has got to have some style in this game. It’s only two of us. I’ve got to pick up the slack for both of us.”

Lee may believe the fight “sells itself,” but its protagonists certainly helped move the process along at last month’s “UFC Summer Kickoff” press conference. After Lee referenced his mom, Chiesa lost his temper, and the two had to be pulled apart by security after a near-scuffle onstage.

Does that mean that the beef between the two is real? Well, in a way, Lee’s beef with every single one of his opponents is quite real.

“I take it very personally because – Tim Hague just died doing this,” Lee said. “It’s serious stuff. It’s not a game, it’s not a joke. I know I’m taking years off my life to do this. I’ve kind of already come to terms with that when I signed that line. Whenever I sign that agreement, I know. It might be a one-in-a-million chance, but if you’re the one, who gives a (expletive)? You’re the one, it’s a 100 percent chance for you. You could die out there. So I take it very seriously. I take every fight very seriously. I take it very personal.

“When you’re coming after me, when you sign that line to fight me, we ain’t friends. I don’t really (expletive) with you, I don’t really know you, I don’t want really to know you. I don’t watch his interviews, I don’t give a damn about him. I’ll say that to him, I’ll say that to his mama, I’ll say that to his grandmama. I’ll say it to anybody.”

To hear more from Lee, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 112, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.



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