Fellow African-American fighter Kevin Lee, however, has a somewhat different outlook. In his appearance on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, the number 11-ranked lightweight contender understands that race does contribute in fighter promotion.
“Look, I had these same conversations with UFC, and I’m just letting you know because I’m talking to you right now,” Lee said (transcription via MMA Mania). “But I’ve let them know how I feel, that’s just how I am. I’m not one of these fighters that is going to pussyfoot around. Me and Joe (Silva) have had arguments, he’s called me a whole bunch of names, and I called him a whole bunch of names.”
“But, I understand, the same reason you do it, is the same reason UFC does it, it’s hard to promote a black fighter. They haven’t broken into the African-American market. So, they don’t want to go all in on it because they don’t know if they are going to get their return.”
Lee specifically aired out his sentiments on the UFC promoting the Mickey Gall-Sage Northcutt fight, questioning why the two aforementioned are “getting more airtime” over more seasoned fighters. But at the same time, he understands that in the end, it is all about the business.
“It’s a business just like any other. They are not racist, they are not this other s—t, they are just about the money. Detroit, Philly, Chicago, St. Louis, they just don’t bring the money in for the UFC to go all in on it, which I understand and is fully respectable. So that could be part of it. And like I said, I will get into a few arguments. It’s probably a mix of everything, you know.”
Lee will be headlining his first UFC event against Michael Chiesa at UFC Fight Night 112 on June 25th in Oklahoma City.
The interview begins at the 1:32:18 mark of the video.