Kevin Lee will be headlining his first UFC event in just a few months as he faces TUF champion Michael Chiesa at UFC Fight Night 112.
Lee, who is African American, says the UFC has had issues promoting black fighters.
“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 to 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.”
Daniel Cormier, Tyron Woodley and Demetrious Johnson are the only African American Champions on the UFC roster right now, with a total of 10 champions in the promotion.
The fighter believes that the UFC doesn’t do good business in African American communities, perhaps why they are hesitant to push black fighters.
“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,” said Lee.
UFC Fight Night 112 takes place on Sunday, June 25 from the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma with Kevin Lee and Michael Chiesa headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, with a post-show podcast to follow.