When Kevin Lee entered the cage at UFC 216, everyone took notice of his staph infection. Joe Rogan immediately pointed it out and many wondered why Lee was allowed to compete with a clear sign of staph.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission deemed Lee medically fit to compete. Lee was examined by two ringside physicians, both of whom cleared Lee for competition.
Appearing on Bruce Buffer’s It’s Time podcast, licensed referee “Big” John McCarthy defended the commission in clearing Lee, but did say it was possible for the bout to be pulled.
“There’s a possibility for the fight to be taken off of the card based upon staph infection. The one thing I’ll tell you, it was not missed.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission doctors are very strict. The ringside physicians in Nevada are fantastic. Trust me, in the pre-fight physical, they saw that. They monitored it. If you look at it, you can see that big red mark on his chest and the bump, that there was no opening to it. If there was an opening to it, I don’t think you would have seen Kevin Lee being able to fight.”
McCarthy went on to say that after the commission saw the staph, but cleared Lee to fight, they got him antibiotics and explained to him that the antibiotics would affect his cardio.
He also speculated as to whether or not the fight would have been pulled if it wasn’t the main event.
“It was probably the right call, especially for a main event. If he was a prelim fighter, I think the UFC would have pulled him. The doctors would not have had a chance.”
“The Motown Phenom” went on to lose by third-round submission to Tony Ferguson in the Interim Lightweight Title bout.