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Kevin Lee: ‘There’s some tomfoolery going on’ behind Khamzat Chimaev’s popularity

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Kevin Lee isn’t buying the hype behind undefeated prospect Khazmat Chimaev.

Khamzat Chimaev after defeating Gerald Meerschaert in September 2020.
Khamzat Chimaev after defeating Gerald Meerschaert in September 2020.
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Just three fights into his UFC career, undefeated welterweight Khamzat Chimaev is already building up some hype. A lot of people are on board the train, UFC boss Dana White included.

Potential opponents like Kevin Lee, however, are questioning his popularity.

“I think he is the product of popularity amongst these Russian fighters. That is one of the things that Khabib does bring to the game, is just this crazy popularity and these… I don’t know,” Lee told Submission Radio in a recent interview.

“I think there’s some tomfoolery going on behind there, to be honest with you. I think there’s a lot of shit behind the scenes. I think there’s a lot of Russian bots if we gonna talk about it. And people are like sheep, they like to follow the crowd.

“So, if they see a whole lot of digital numbers going up, then they tend to go with those numbers. And I think Khamzat is gonna benefit from that. But that’s not something that... I’m not interested in playing them games.”

In the same interview, Lee expressed his undying intent to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov. But with Khamzat, he’s not seeing the same challenge.

“Just because they’re both Russian don’t mean that they’re similar at all. I don’t think Khamzat is not really a challenge. If anything, he’s chasing me. I’m chasing Khabib, he’s behind me, and I’m not in the business of looking behind me.”

Lee is due for his comeback fight after more than a year on the sidelines as he returns to welterweight against short-notice opponent Daniel Rodriguez. The two will meet at UFC Vegas 35 on August 28.

Chimaev, on the other hand, is scheduled to face number 12-ranked Li Jingliang at UFC 267 on October 30 in Fight Island.